The change in the energy model that a large part of the industrialized countries have embarked on largely seeks to drastically reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, the implementation of the measures proposed by the United Nations in the Paris Agreement should have a perceptible effect in the medium term, but in the short term it is necessary to adopt strategies that are capable of having an immediate impact in the environment.
This is the juncture in which atmospheric carbon dioxide capture technologies are gaining enormous relevance due to their ability to act quickly and in a clearly perceptible way. However, the capture solutions available so far had significant room for improvement both from the point of view of their efficiency and if we stick to the speed at which they are capable of processing gases.
In the previous sentence I have used the verb in the past tense for a reason: a new system for capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide has just come to light, which has 99% efficiency, and which, according to its creators, processes air at least twice as fast as the most advanced capture solutions currently available. It sounds great, and there is no doubt that having such a tool should make a difference in our efforts to alleviate the climate emergency, but we have compelling reasons not to get carried away with enthusiasm.
We have the solution: now the great challenge is to deploy it on a large scale
Available carbon dioxide capture systems rely on a huge variety of strategies to carry out their task, but none of them gives us such high efficiency as the solution proposed by researchers at Tokyo Metropolitan University. This finding, like many other great innovations, came unexpectedly while they were studying organic chemical compounds known as amines.
The scientific article they have published in the journal of the American Chemical Society reflects that the IPDA compound (this acronym comes from its chemical designation) is capable of retaining more than 99% of the carbon dioxide present in the air. In addition, it acts with a filtering capacity of 201 millimoles of carbon dioxide per hour and mole of compound, so it manages to remove this polluting gas, and this feature is also very important, at twice the speed than other CO₂ capture solutions.
The compound proposed by these Japanese researchers is capable of retaining more than 99% of the carbon dioxide present in the air
Everything we have seen so far is extremely promising, but as attractive as this CO₂ capture system is on paper, there are several challenges that we cannot ignore. One of them requires devising what can we do with atmospheric carbon dioxide that has been filtered. It is possible to accumulate it both in solid state and in gaseous form, but the ideal is to find a way to reuse it without having a negative impact on the environment.
The other big challenge is even more difficult to tackle, and requires us to find a way to deploy both this and other CO₂ capture technologies on a large scale. According to Our World in Data Currently, human activity is responsible for the discharge into the atmosphere of more than 35 billion tons of CO₂ every yearand the most advanced and efficient capture plants are capable of filtering up to 4,000 tons of CO₂ per year.
Human activity is responsible for dumping more than 35 billion tons of CO₂ into the atmosphere each year
It is clear that the number of installations of this type that would need to be deployed throughout the planet to prevent the accumulation of this greenhouse gas would possibly be unfeasible from an economic point of view. Even so, we must not lose sight of the fact that the capture of carbon dioxide it’s just one of the ingredients of the recipe that we have within our reach to combat the emission of greenhouse gases. And given the circumstances, having a solution as efficient and fast as the one proposed by these Japanese researchers is great news. It all adds up, and your proposal can add up a lot.
More information: American Chemical Society