All plants absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. For example …

Holmes: “On a warm, sunny day in Iowa, corn fields will absorb 75% of the CO2 in their surrounding area.”

That’s Geoff Holmes with Carbon Engineering. He’s developing an industrial way to mimic this process.

Holmes: “What we’re working on is sort of an engineered, mechanized way where we can do CO2 capture with much, much less land.”

Called direct air capture, this technology is designed to remove carbon dioxide that is already dispersed in the air, instead of capturing it directly from smokestacks or tailpipes.

The company is building a small pilot plant this year. Large fans will move air through a tower containing a liquid solution that absorbs up to 80 percent of the carbon. The resulting cleaner air will then be released back into the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the captured CO2 could be sold for industrial use or buried deep underground.

But Holmes stresses that increasing energy efficiency and reducing the use of fossil fuels will still be necessary.

Holmes: “Really we’re developing direct air capture as yet another tool, or yet another option to deal with emissions.”

Direct air capture cannot solve climate change by itself, but it could potentially be a useful tool in the toolbox.


Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photos source: Carbon Engineering website.

More Resources
Mopping Up Carbon
Pulling Carbon Dioxide Out of Thin Air
Capturing Carbon

Topics: Climate Science