I’m pretty confident if you are reading this energy blog you are very aware of the perils of climate change. Considering carbon dioxide (CO2) is such a human-induced threat to our planet, investment dollars need to be focused on trying to capture CO2 however possible. This leads me to discuss something that is all around us and absolutely vital for survival. I’m talking about “air”. Despite being kicked around in labs for over the past two decades, only in recent years are more scientists gaining venture capital interest for their technologies to capture carbon from air. I’ve seen that interest to develop positive ways to tap CO2 become even hotter in recent months thanks to Superstorm Sandy and while higher concentrations of CO2 exist in seawater, new technologies are making air more competitive.
So could we be actually breathing in what ultimately may be the next major breakthrough opportunity to combat global warming? I believe so since there are advantages to tapping CO2 via air including less emission output from transportation of fossil fuels, having the ability to have more flexible locations for operation, cheaper substitutes to platinum as an electrode and pyridinium as a catalyst, reverse combustion effects that typically burn fuel to create CO2, to create specialty chemicals, as a catalyst to stimulate algae biofuels which desperately need CO2 and sunlight for growth, as well as the creation of 95 octane fuel and by-products such as methanol and butanol which can be used as a fuel in an internal combustion engine (ICE). Imagine that, we can use harmful CO2 as new kinds of hydrocarbons to actually offset the need for existing fossil fuels and as a regenerative means to store energy. Despite being relatively safe today, storing CO2 underground is less attractive in my view than say using CO2 for enhanced oil recovery to stimulate older wells (a process safely used for over 30 years) since CO2 could suddenly escape, leak, rupture (think CO2 geyser) and cause earthquakes for future generations. If we are seriously going to make a stab at replacing fossil fuels with cleaner fuels made from CO2, recycling of CO2 could be a very lucrative business.
Setting our sights on becoming carbon neutral is not high enough of a target. In fact, remaining carbon neutral won’t do anything to combat the present levels of CO2 from rising. Isn’t it time we fast-tracked safe, effective ways to fight climate change that are also affordable and can help us become carbon “negative”?
Companies that are involved in the air capture of CO2 include:
Global Thermostat:Columbia professors with patented carbon sponge technology using low-cost process heat to remove CO2 from ambient air. Using CO2 to create Algae fuel appears to be a target for Global Thermostat. Open to new partners.
Carbon Engineering: Canadian based co. with patented technology that taps air to create pure CO2 for industrial use.
Liquid Light: Born in Princeton Labs trying to make industrial chemicals and liquid fuels from renewable energy through a sort of photosynthesis action with no need for biological feedstocks. The co’s electrocatalytic technology process is patent-pending.
Kilimanjaro Energy : technology that could provide CO2 wherever and whenever
LightSail Energy: Regenerative compressed air energy storage