Friday, January 11, 2013


Carbon dioxide is considered one of the greatest pollutants in the history of mankind and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air humans breath has increased tremendously with the advent of extensive fossil fuel burning practices that sustain modern civilization. Whether burning of coal, diesel or natural gas for power generation in thousands of power plants across the world or consumption of petroleum products for internal combustion engines in automobiles and other transportation carriers, carbon dioxide is the end product that is spewed out into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is known to trap heat which in turn leads to global warming creating natural havoc like drought, flooding, unnatural and unseasonal rains, agricultural failure etc and global efforts in reducing carbon pollution do not seem to be taking the world any where near the reduction target desirable for atmospheric stability. One of the feasible ways to reduce carbon dioxide reduction is to remove the same through efficient technologies on a scale that will have some significant impact. A recent claim by a company in Canada that it has developed a technology to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide is exciting news though its economic feasibility is yet to be established. Here is a glimpse what this innovator has done in this area.

"Now a Canadian company has developed a cleansing technology that may one day capture and remove some of this heat-trapping gas directly from the sky. And it is even possible that the gas could then be sold for industrial use. Carbon Engineering, formed in 2009 with $3.5 million from Bill Gates and others, created prototypes for parts of its cleanup system in 2011 and 2012 at its plant in Calgary, Alberta. The company, which recently closed a $ 3 million second round of financing, plans to build a complete pilot plant by the end of 2014 for capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said David Keith, its president and a Harvard professor who has long been interested in climate issues. The carbon-capturing tools that Carbon Engineering and other companies are designing have made great strides in the last two years, said Timothy A. Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London. "The technology has moved from a position where people talked about the potential and possibilities to a point where people like David Keith are testing prototype components and producing quite detailed designs and engineering plans," Dr. Fox said. "Carbon Engineering is the leading contender in this field at this moment for putting an industrial-scale machine together and getting it working." Should the cost of capturing carbon dioxide fall low enough, the gas would have many customers, he predicted. Chief among them, he said, would be the oil industry, which buys the gas to inject into oil fields to force out extra oil. The injection has minimal risk, said Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The enhanced oil recovery industry has put tens of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the ground every year for decades with no problems," he said.

World to day is estimated to generate about 33377 million tons of carbon dioxide of which China alone accounts for 9700 million tons followed by the US with 5420 million tons! Though the development of the technology is still at the pilot plant stage, looking at the technical feasibility there is no reason why it will not become an option in future for controlling the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Captive modern power plants are already deploying carbon dioxide trapping gadgets located at the emission end to bring down the level of this gas in the exhaust as much as possible. What is posing a challenge is the billions of tons of this gas spewed by millions of cars and other petroleum fuel consuming transport carriers, each one of them capable of emitting 5 tons of carbon dioxide per year! Probably location of the carbon dioxide capturing plants as reported above, in any parts of the world can have benefit for the entire humanity. Collective investment by all countries in putting up such massive plants in desolate and uninhabited islands can bring about very significant lowering of carbon dioxide in the air through out the world with its attendant benefits flowing to the entire global community.


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