Researchers Can Now Remove Carbon Dioxide From Air To Fight Climate Change

The fight against climate change continues, and researchers found a new way to reduce its effects worldwide. A new technique removes carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air using a simple device that can be installed on fuel-dependent facilities, such as factories. 

The technique, described in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, uses a large, specialized battery that absorbs CO2 from the air or gas stream. It cleans air when gas passes through a stack of charged electrochemical plates. 

The device can either provide clean air or release stream of pure carbon dioxide. Researchers said the process requires less energy to capture carbon unlike other existing air-cleaning methods. 

“The greatest advantage of this technology over most other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent's affinity to carbon dioxide,” MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the work during his PhD, said in a statement. “This binary affinity allows capture of carbon dioxide from any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and allows its release into any carrier stream, including 100 percent CO2.”

Researchers said the pure CO2 extracted by the device can be used for the production of beverages, mainly in soft drink bottling plants. Such facilities currently rely on fossil fuel to generate carbon dioxide to give the drinks the fizz.

Farmers also use CO2 to feed their plants in greenhouses. However, the approach requires natural gas. 

The new system promises to eliminate the need for fossil fuels or natural gas by simply filtering the air available in the open space. Voskian said the pure carbon dioxide stream could be compressed and placed underground for long-term use. 

"All of this is at ambient conditions -- there's no need for thermal, pressure, or chemical input,” the researcher said. “It's just these very thin sheets, with both surfaces active, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a source of electricity.”

The air-cleaning device can be used in manufacturing facilities or factories to reduce or recycle their carbon emissions. 

For example, power plants can install two sets of stacks of electrochemical cells to filter fuel gas. Tests in the lab showed that the device could withstand at least 7,000 charging-discharging cycles.

Researchers said that in the field the device may even operate from 20,000 to 50,000 cycles. The team aims to provide the “cost-effective technique" to the industry to help reduce their carbon emissions and fight climate change.

Voskian and colleagues have established a company called Verdox to commercialize the device. 

Air Pollution Indian make their way along a path amidst smog and fog conditions during a cold morning in Faridabad on February 6, 2019. Minnesota officials found that manufacturing company Water Gremlin has been leaking cancer-linked chemical into the air for a decade or more. Money Sharma/AFP/Getty Images