Mechanical trees to capture carbon

Everyone knows trees help pull carbon dioxide from the air. Mechanical trees might do it better.

Arizona State University researchers and Irish company Silicon Kingdom Holdings are deploying mechanical trees that they claim could be thousands of times more efficient than real trees in capturing carbon.

“The situation has gotten to the point where we need to stop talking about it and start doing something about it,” said Klaus Lackner, director of the university’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, in a press release.

“Carbon dioxide is a waste product we produce every time we drive our cars or turn on the lights in our homes. Our device can recycle it, bringing it out of the atmosphere to either bury it or use it as an industrial gas.”

The tree is a column of sorbent-filled disks that absorb CO2. Later, the disks are lowered into a container that captures the carbon as it is released from the disks. The captures carbon can then be used for fuel, agriculture or other uses. The mechanism uses the wind to collect the CO2 rather than a motor or other system that would burn energy.

A single column can remove around 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a day. Silicon Kingdom Holdings plans to launch a pilot project of 100 columns, then larger farms throughout the world that could remove 3.8 million metric tons of CO2 annually. Humans emit around 36 billion metric tons annually.

Image credit: Robert Murray via Unsplash

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