An Irish-based company has designed CO2-sucking metal columns that can clean up part of the carbon emissions released by cars. The company plans to install 1,200 such “metal trees” in the United States after a two-year test in Arizona proved they work, Reuters reports.
Silicon Kingdom Holdings says its method of carbon capture is cheaper than others and it’s also effective: the 1,200 columns to be erected in the U.S. in the next stage of the company’s climate change fighting efforts can remove the annual emissions from 8,000 cars, or 36,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide. This may not be a whole lot given there were more than 270 million cars on U.S. roads last year, but it is a start.
The start will be a pilot project that will probably take place in California, according to Silicon Kingdom Holdings. If that goes well over the planned two-year period of operation, the technology can be scaled to installations 100 times larger.
The technology Silicon Kingdom Holdings mimics the way actual trees absorb carbon dioxide and, according to a chemical engineering professor who was not involved in the project, belongs to a carbon capture industry segment that has a great potential.
Direct carbon capture, or sucking the compound directly from the air, is a new field of research with only a few companies active, Jennifer Wilcox from Worcester Polytechnic Institute told Reuters. The reason is that the technology is more expensive than non-direct carbon capture methods. However, this is not the case with the Silicon Kingdom Holdings metal trees. Their technology, according to the researcher who invented it, Klaus Lackner, costs less than US$100 per ton of pure carbon dioxide.
What makes the technology particularly promising is the fact that the carbon dioxide can be reused in a range of applications after being captured.
“You can buy liquid CO2 which is delivered by truck in order to fill fire extinguishers and myriad other things for prices between $100 and $200 a ton,” Lackner told Reuters.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.