A new kind of tree has been brought to the attention by scientist. What researchers are calling artificial trees, are actually towers filled with various materials that adsorb carbon dioxide from the air. These ‘trees’ could eventually play a major roll in reducing the effects of climate change.
Global Research Technology’s artificial trees are based on an environmentally friendly resin, originally developed by Klaus Lackner, a professor at Columbia University in New York.
The alkaline resin reacts with acidic carbon dioxide, holding it in place. After the resin is exposed to the air for one hour, the it is completely saturated with carbon dioxide. Dry resin soaks up the carbon dioxide and then adding water releases the carbon dioxide, which is then captured, removed from the resin, and buried underground in a similar manner to conventional carbon capture and storage. The resin is then recycled by drying which restores its abilities. This cycle that can be repeated indefinitely. Over twenty-four hours it is estimates that an artificial tree, containing about 32,800 feet of resin, will collect about one ton of carbon dioxide each day.
When the first artificial tree is ready, two to three years from now, it is estimated to cost about one-hundred and fifty dollars for each ton. But, it is said that when the technology is fully mature, the price will be as low as twenty dollars.
Some of the main thoughts that I had when I was reading articles on these artificial trees was a) what do you do with the carbon dioxide after it had been captured? Turns out that there is a growing market for purified carbon dioxide and the Global Research Technology plans to sell the purified carbon dioxide to a range of buyers. Oil and natural gas companies are probably the biggest customers for the artificial trees. Petroleum companies pump carbon dioxide underground to raise the pressure and force oil to the surface. Greenhouses could pump in extra carbon dioxide to help plants grow. Fizzy soda drinks and sanding auto parts also require concentrated carbon dioxide. And b) Since these artificial trees can capture more carbon dioxide per day then a regular tree can, will this be an excuse for the world to be more careless with the environment.
All of these customers currently get carbon dioxide by truck or by pipeline, most of which originates in Texas. The advantage of the artificial trees is that they can be placed next to whatever factory needs carbon dioxide without having to ship it in.
Another use for the artificial trees would be in the cap-and-trade carbon credit system. The idea is that companies that produce carbon dioxide would pay another company, like Global Research Technology, to get rid of it.
“Wherever the carbon dioxide is placed, at least it is out of the atmosphere”, said David Keith, a professor at the University of Calgary in Canada, who developed his own artificial, carbon dioxide catching towers years ago and is working to refine his models. Keith, Global Research Technology, and other organizations aren’t trying to profit from climate change; they are looking to prevent or at least slow it down.