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Carbon Capture

July 15, 2018

As we know, humanity has drastically increased the rate at which we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, which has increasing effects on the ecology of Earth. Though life has an incredible ability to adapt to change in order to survive, our current crisis has to do with too much change too rapidly.

The downstream negative effects of increasing temperatures become incalculable and once it goes too far some life can no longer adapt. It’s important we reduce carbon dioxide emissions to curb this, but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we must also find ways to create “negative emissions” [1] - meaning we have to take carbon dioxide that’s already in our atmosphere out of it and put it somewhere else.

Researchers from around the world are already working on this with a technology called Direct Air Capture (DAC) or, simply, “carbon capture”. This works much in the way a tree “captures” carbon from the air as it grows. These teams are demonstrating humans can create devices to do the same, only much more efficiently and on a greater scale.

 

Since carbon dioxide only makes up .04% of our atmosphere we have to find a way to separate it from the rest of the gases that surround us (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) [2]. In practice this process of capturing is taking many forms - a wire mesh [3], a shag carpet [4], or a liquid [5].