Carbon - a theme that is continuously on the news in various shapes and sizes, usually with a negative connotation... We think that with all that is happening in the world right now, we desperately need some positive and inspiring news too.
So, this week we decided to focus our discussion on some more uplifting aspects of carbon and would like to share with you some of the most interesting and innovative carbon capture methods that are out there!
Once our discussion started, we actually realized that we are all a bit confused about the terminology used relating to different carbon-related technologies. So, we might as well share a little glossary regarding CO2 here too before diving into the most interesting finds:
- CO2 avoided: Avoided emissions are the result of intentional human activities that lead to lower or no CO2 from previously carbon-emitting processes.
- CO2 removed: Refers to human-driven extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere combined with its permanent storage.
- CO2 reduced: Also known as ‘decarbonization’ and tends to refer to the process of reducing ‘carbon intensity’, lowering the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Generally, this involves decreasing CO2 output per unit of electricity generated.
- CO2 utilized: Known as an industrial process that makes an economically valuable product using CO2 at concentrations above atmospheric levels. CO2 is either transformed using chemical reactions into materials, chemicals and fuels, or it’s used directly in processes such as enhanced oil recovery.
So here are the top 3 most interesting carbon reduction/decarbonization technological inventions, strictly in BeCause’s opinion, that might just help us limit global warming below 1.5°C:
Physicist and engineer Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, has developed an artificial tree that can capture carbon dioxide directly out of the air and perform as much as 1,000 times more efficiently than nature’s trees in doing so.
These trees look nothing like your average oak or maple, in our opinion, it looks more like a bottle washing brush or a feather, nevertheless, it functions similarly to a natural tree by absorbing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. These “trees” are made from a special resin, a unique plastic that sponges up CO2 from the air in a chemical reaction. When the resin is dry, it absorbs the C02. And when the resin is submerged in water, it releases carbon dioxide.
This technology could recycle the captured carbon dioxide and use it to as a resource to make fuel, “closing the loop” of industrial carbon emissions.
However, quite an impressive amount of Lackner’s units would need to be produced, each unit removes one metric ton of CO2 daily, we would have to install one hundred million of these to remove the amount of CO2 the world is currently emitting annually.
This technology is currently being field tested, and who knows, maybe soon you shall be admiring these on your daily walk! We are not sure about the aesthetic appeal of having such “trees”, but I guess that is jumping in into a whole new discussion...
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, especially if the bling holds a carbon-negative aspect one could brag about! We have discovered Aether, aetherdiamonds.com, a jewelry company that is creating artificial diamonds by capturing carbon from the atmosphere.
Their diamond creation includes a 4-step production process:
- CO2 Capture from the atmosphere: a direct air capture technology is used to extract CO2 from the atmosphere.
- Hydrocarbon synthesis: the captured CO2 is then synthesized into the hydrocarbon feedstock required for growing diamonds in a chemical vapor deposition reactor.
- Diamond growth: the hydrocarbon raw material is fed into specialized chemical vapor deposition reactors that are powered by 100% clean energy. Over the next few weeks, diamond crystals grow one ambitious atom at a time.
- Finishing touches: once the diamond crystals are fully formed, they are then sent to Aether’s expert craftspeople to cut, polish, and set them into their next piece of jewelry.
Their vision to create the world's first positive-impact diamonds is just the beginning, as they are committed to becoming an independently carbon-negative company by 2023. Aether is actively building a future where they also generate their own renewable energy sources, and furthermore return excess clean power to the grid.
We wish them all success with their sparkling endeavors! And, Aether, we wouldn’t mind testing your products! #influenceralert 😊
Underwater Seagrass Meadows!
(Not technological, but let’s count it as a product of our planet’s bio-engineering genius)
We live on a blue planet, meaning that three quarters of our planet are covered in water and as much as 97,5% of this water is salt water. This, very evidently, gives us a huge potential for finding ways of efficiently using the space for carbon reduction projects.
This is already happening under the beautiful turquoise waters of the natural park of Ses Salines, a huge underwater meadow of Posidonia seagrass, not far from Ibiza and Formentera. This plant, Posidonia oceanica or posidonia mediterranea, is an aquatic plant endemic to this region of the Mediterranean Sea, and holds the capacity to store more CO2 than your average forest of the same size! Of course, many factors influence the exact amount of how much carbon that can be taken up by a seagrass meadow, but rough calculations show that if one hectare of seagrass would be planted, the amount of carbon it would sequester would correspond to at least 10 hectares of dry-land forest.
Planting such meadows also does not pose a massive challenge, as these plants produce seeds that can be sown in the seabed or small shoots that can be planted by divers, what a holiday destination activity that would make! Sign us up!
As you see, carbon is not always a doomsday-related topic but can present itself in various shapes and sizes. For example, we wouldn’t mind at all sharing the carbon removal burden by wearing an 8-carat diamond ring, and to be extra supportive, we can take it on a dive while distributing some Posidonia oceanica seeds and then drying up in the shade of Klaus Lackner’s tree! Sold!