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Wind Washer Tree

RoboTrees Can Rid CO2 From The Winds of Earth

This is a long one kids but full of information you need to know. So, grab a cup of coffee, tea, or what ever, sit back and enjoy.

artificial-co2-capture-mechanish_69_74471Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is primarily the result of the actions of two forces, nature and human. Natural actions such as volcanic eruptions, naturally occurring forest fires (i.e. lightening), and even methane hydrate released from melting permafrost. Human actions includes power generation, industrial production, transportation (cars, trucks, ships, trains and aircraft), agricultural burning, and deforestation (land clearing). Just one tank full of gasoline produces approximately 300 lbs. of CO2. Climate experts have reported that CO2 levels in the atmosphere are higher today than they have been over the last half-million years or longer. CO2 concentrations are now 40% higher than before the industrial revolution. Scientists and engineers are working on ways to slow the accumulation of man-made CO2. Such as smokestack scrubbers used to capture exhaust gases from power plants, effective but, an expensive solution that must be installed at the source of emissions, solely for those emissions. “Scrubbing” the carbon from the air is seen as one of the greatest challenges in climate science….Or maybe not…….

Theoretical Physicist Klaus Lackner and Engineer Allen Wright first met at Biosphere 2 in Arizona. Biosphere 2 was the largest completely air tight, artificial ecosystem ever built. The perfect place to study how changes in CO2 would affect the planet. In 2004, together with Gary Comer and Wally Broecker they formed Global Research Technologies (GRT) LLC, in Tucson, Arizona. Funded by Comer’s generosity and based on the strongly held belief of its founders that climate change solutions can and must be found. Fast Forward to 2007, Lackner and Wright developed a system for the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere called ACCESS™ (Atmospheric Carbon CapturE SystemS) technology. Unlike smokestack scrubbers, these “wind scrubbers” could be installed almost anywhere, presumably at a much lower cost.

Designed to mimic the function of natural trees the team tested different materials, configurations, and coatings that together would act as leaves do to remove CO2 from the air. Abandoning the standard chemical processes in CO2 capture, they found absorbent plastic sheets called ion exchange membranes, commonly used to purify water. When dry it has a natural ability to absorb CO2 directly from the air just as quickly as chemicals. When doused with plain water it releases the captured CO2. By alternating the moisture levels on this fantastic plastic it will either collect or release CO2. Units could be located at the point of geological sequestration (storage) or CO2 end-use markets, significantly reducing handling and transportation costs. With GRT’s ACCESS, location means nothing, each Robo-Tree can collect CO2 in the atmosphere as a whole. Emitted emissions in Australia can be captured in Texas. Each tree will absorb one ton of CO2 a day, about 70 cars worth or a flight from London to New York, per passenger. Or if you prefer; 365,000 tons of CO2 a year, the equivalent emissions of 25,550 cars. These robo-trees require only a small amount of energy and a water supply each.

co2_225_338This revolutionary air capture process has now flip-flopped the challenge from capture to storage. Once collected, the gas must be safely and permanently stored to prevent its release back into the atmosphere. Before that can happen, the CO2 must be compressed to convert it into a “supercritical” fluid (between a gas and a liquid state), making it “injectable”. GRT is undergoing test in Utah to analyze the suitability of long-term geologic storage with emphasis focused on making carbonate rock out of carbon dioxide, which would neutralize it. This is what nature eventually does anyway. Their goal is to time slash a process that takes 100,000 years and compress it into 30 minutes.

Standard geological storage of CO2, (filling existing cavities, including depleted coal beds, oil and gas fields), is emerging as one of the most promising option for captured CO2. While this approach appears to be technically feasible, risk assessment is required to determine the environmental consequences. Most important would be analysis of potential leakage of injected CO2 into other permeable formations or back into the atmosphere. Ocean storage is another solution with several options, including injecting CO2 deep into the seabed or stimulating growth at the surface of plankton populations, which use CO2 in photosynthesis and given the fact that CO2 readily dissolves in seawater (in reasonable amounts, I’m sure).

carbon-captureAir-capture will also open or expand new markets for CO2. One example is controlled environment agriculture (CEA) where increasing the level of CO2 in a greenhouse enhances plant growth and improves both product quality and yield, critical to feeding an ever-expanding world population. Tying a GRT ACCESS system to a greenhouse complex would ensure that CO2 was always available to the grower at the desired concentration and at an affordable and predictable price. A related market is urban agriculture, also called BIA or Building Integrated Agriculture. In BIA, greenhouses or greenhouse-like structures are installed on the roofs or built into the walls of schools, public buildings and residential apartment units. CO2 enrichment is also critical to ensuring optimum yields of algae and other crops being cultivated worldwide as feedstock for bioethanol and biodiesel production. CO2 is already an important industrial chemical with a myriad of end-uses ranging from food processing and transportation to water treatment, plastic and rubber foaming, dry ice for metal cleaning/blasting, beverage carbonation, and fire extinguisher fluid. Worldwide demand for CO2 is estimated to exceed 80 million tons annually.

60 million of these “wind-washer” trees could potentially absorb all the CO2 we currently emit and actually get carbon dioxide back down to nominal levels. But would that undermine attempts to promote greener lifestyles and industries? No, just because CO2 can be eliminated from the atmosphere, doesn’t give us the green light to throttle up the smoke stacks. Remember, CO2 is not the only pollution/poison belching out of those stacks or running out into our rivers. You clean up the milk a baby spills but, then you teach him how to hold his cup.

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17 Responses to “Wind Washer Tree”

  1. Says:

    Wind Washer Tree | Forced Green…

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere is primarily the result of the actions of two forces, nature and human….

  2. Shane Says:

    Great post. My brain is still trying to unwrap all of that info. Back to read it again! When I first heard about thses trees, I did not really understand the technology. You made it much clearer.

    Shanes last blog post..Call to Action! Help Us Remove Perchlorate (Rocket Fuel Ingredient) from Infant Formula and Contaminated Water in 28 States!

  3. Linda Says:

    Hi Shane … It is a little high techy but it is a great and doable project. How to explain it where everyone understands it was the biggest challenge. 😀

  4. Karen Says:

    Several years ago I remember Ford running front page ads touting a new platinum radiator that would remove CO2 as people drove. Not sure what happened, perhaps high acquisition costs of the item just didn’t work but I hope these trees prove viable long term.

    Karens last blog post..What Plastic Resin Codes Mean

  5. Mike Says:

    Wow, lots of good information in this post and I did not realize so much C02 was emmited from just a car, and I do about three tanks of gas a week for the daily commute to work. Interesting project, I wonder what the cost would be for just one of these ‘trees’?

    Mikes last blog post..Fun with Stalactites and Stalagmites

  6. Linda Says:

    Hi Karen … I have heard of Ford’s claim but never saw anything else. These trees should last a long time.

  7. Linda Says:

    Hi Mike … I wonder about the cost as well. When it comes to light, I will update and let everyone know!

  8. Steinar Arason Says:

    Hello, my name is Steinar. I found your blog on blogcatalog.

    You have a nice blog, so keep up the good work!

    Here is my blog.
    “Traffic To Your Blog”

  9. Linda Says:

    Hi Steinar … Thank you for coming by! I am off to see yours!

  10. Julie Says:

    It all seems so futuristic, and that saddens me. We have all this knowledge, and there just isn’t being enough done.

    Julies last blog post..Parents Just Don’t Understand

  11. Linda Says:

    Hi Julie … I know what you mean! If they could just get the prices down where folks could afford it, I am sure this technology would be much more widespread.

  12. wilson Says:

    Linda, I bet it takes years to build the 60 million Wind Washer Trees. However, if this become a reality, then the global warming problem will be soon solve up! By the way, nice article and I enjoyed reading it. 🙂

    wilsons last blog post..Cheap Medicines Didn’t Mean Useless!

  13. Linda Says:

    Hi Wilson …. It would take a little while to get these built but it can be done! You are welcome! 🙂

  14. Shelby | Heating Elements Says:

    We really have all the know how to do these things but they just take forever to get off the ground, lets hope that this comes to light as it will certainly help and as Wilson stated global warming will become a thing of the past.

  15. Linda Says:

    Hi Shelby … correct, it will certainly help in many many areas.

  16. kathy@metal tree grates Says:

    This technology is grate, or at least it is very promising. With so many deserts and areas generally considered uninhabitable it would be nice if we could have forests of these artificial metal trees. Maybe require the purchase of one of these metal tree with the purchase of a car or at least when the purchase of the vehicle is a gaz guzzler. Or maybe put these along the long strips of highways.

  17. Linda Says:

    Hi Kathy … Hey! sounds good to me! 😀

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