Phil De Luna and a team at the University of Toronto, Canada have found a way to recycle waste CO₂ back into ethylene, the raw material used to make the most commonly used plastic, polyethylene.
The team used a technique involving X-ray spectroscopy and computer modelling techniques at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) facility at the University of Saskatchewan – analysing matter with electromagnetic radiation to identify their key catalyst.
And it was thanks to a new piece of equipment developed by CLS senior scientist Tom Regier that the researchers were able to study both the shape and the chemical environment of the catalyst in real time. The researchers worked out how to control the reaction so that ethylene production was maximised, while waste products such as methane were kept to a minimum.
Armed with this new knowledge and a suitable carbon capture technology, we could potentially remove CO₂ from the atmosphere while producing plastics in an environmentally friendly way at the same time. Further research is required to refine the technique, but we now have one of the basic building blocks
For his breakthrough in 2019, De Luna was named in the 2019 Forbes Top 30 under 30 Energy List.
Murals or wall paintings proliferate in big cities but are only decorative.
Since 2007, Massimo Bernardoni and Antonio Cianci of Airlite in Milan and London, have developed Sunlight Exterior one of a range of paint colours which contain special compounds that absorb and eliminate pollutants in the air by 88%, similar to photosynthesis in plants. A study in Rome’s Umberto tunnel found that after it was painted with a similar photocatalytic paint, nitrogen oxide levels were reduced by over 50%.
Sponsored by Veronica De Angelis, real estate entrepreneur and founder of Yourban2030, Milanese street artist Federico Massa (aka Iena Cruz) using the Airlite palette unveiled her work ‘Hunting Pollution,’ which spanned 1,000-square-metres, on the side of seven-story building in the capital.
In Rome, the Dutch street artist JDL (Judith de Leeuw) has painted another giant mural on a gable end of a building. Paying homage to the LGBTQ community by depicting a woman standing in front of a mirror seeing her reflection as a man, the mural is absorbing the pollution generated by 52 cars every day.
Airlite is planning to focus on large contracts and infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools, air quality in tunnels and the like.
There are still 66 to come, and we hope you will join us by following on facebook, Instagram or twitter to find out about a new one each day.
Because there is something you can do, that your family and friends can do, that we all can do to clean up, repair and protect our planet. All it takes is the right solutions!
Read on for Solution 300!
Removing CO2 from gas mixtures without chemically binding CO2.
Chemists at the Inorganic Chemistry I research group of the University of Bayreuth in northern Bavaria, Germany have developed a material that could well make an important contribution to climate protection and sustainable industrial production.
With this material, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be specifically separated from industrial waste gases, natural gas, or biogas, and thereby made available for recycling. The separation process is both energy efficient and cost-effective. In the journal Cell Reports Physical Science the researchers present the structure and function of the material.
The chemical basis is clay minerals consisting of hundreds of individual glass platelets. These are only one nanometre thick each, and arranged precisely one above the other. Between the individual glass plates there are organic molecules that act as spacers. Their shape and chemical properties have been selected so that the pore spaces created are optimally tailored to accumulate CO2.
In 2014 Russia was responsible for 13.7 tons (11.86 tonnes) per capita of carbon emissions.
Russian technology is making the production of single-walled carbon nanotubes almost 100-times cheaper. Experts believe this will help reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Russia by as much as 180 million tons (160 million tonnes) by 2030.
Nanotubes improve the qualities of 70 % of materials known to mankind; that is, they enhance a material’s durability. This helps increase the lifetime of metals, rubber, and other materials by two or three times. And since all sorts of items will last longer, there will be a significant reduction in energy spent for producing new materials, as well as less energy spent to recycle waste.
Mikhail Predtechensky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was the first scientist to discover a technology that can reduce the price of mass-produced single-walled nanotubes by 50 to 100-times.
In 2009, Predtechensky co-founded OCSiAl Technology (each letter in that word is the Chemical symbol for elements on the periodic table representing Oxygen, Carbon, Silicon and Aluminium). The pilot industrial facility for single wall carbon nanotubes synthesis named Graphetron 1.0 was installed in the Nanomodified Materials Centre at the Technopark of Novosibirsk Akademgorodok, in the R&D centre of OCSiAl.
Four years later, OCSiAl launched the world’s largest industrial system for synthesizing single-walled Graphetron 1.0 nanotubes called Tuball which is capable of producing11 tons per year (10 tonnes) SWCNT and is already building a plant in Luxembourg for a 55 tonnes per year (50 tonne) turn-key production of SWCNT.
OCSiAl’s process for producing SWCNT is protected by patents and patent applications in 50 countries, owned by a global holding company headquartered in Luxembourg, with offices in the USA, Russia, China, Hong Kong, South Korea and India. (ocsial.com)
This technology allows the synthesis of a wide range of carbon nanomaterials. In the near future the company plans to establish in Novosibirsk a center for prototyping technologies based on single-layered carbon nanotubes to create rubber, composites, li-ion batteries, and many other materials.
Producers in more than 30 countries buy nanotubes made in Novosibirsk, including South Korea, Japan, the USA, Germany, and Israel. “The nanotubes’ qualities are well-known across the world, yet many still perceive them as highly specialized additives, and so we are fighting this stereotype,” said Kulgaeva.
In July 2019, Chinese companies Haiyi Scientific Trading and Shenyang East Chemical Science Tech both won permission to mass-produce the OCSiAL Tuball Batts. With their combined production capacities, the partners anticipate manufacturing 7,000 tons of Tuball Batts for Chinese battery manufacturers whose grail is a 300 Wh/kg energy density.
In March 2019, a team of researchers at MIT created a new cathode for lithium battery cells which could allow for smaller and lighter lithium batteries. The team said an initial version of the battery, without optimization, achieved a gravimetric energy density of more than 360 Wh/kg, and volumetric energy density of 581 Wh/liter.
The researchers added that with further work and optimization they believed the battery could reach 400 Wh/kg and 700 Wh/liter – greatly increased from commercially available 260WH/kg li-ion batteries made by several manufacturers in Japan, China and South Korea.
As pedestrians walk on a walkway, instead of wasting good energy, the pressure could be used to transfer electromagnetic induction creating kinetic energy which can then be used to power devices.
Jose Luis Moracho Amigot and Angel Moracho Jimenez direct PVT (Pavimentos de Tudela) in Navarra, Spain, a company with more than 30 years of experience specializing in the manufacture of non-slip outdoor Granicem pavements.
In 2009, they adapted the system developed by Italcementi of Italy, to manufacture paving stones whose photosynthetic, concrete-titanium dioxide composition would enable them to absorb particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC), and render them harmless.
Their patented product, ecoGranic, bio-mimics the performance of chlorophyll in plants. A top layer comprises oxide additives titanium incorporating a catalyst that is activated by sunlight, which then converts pollution that go with the rain nitrates and carbonates and the wind until it reaches where vegetation is removed. The lower layet consists of recycled materials.
ISO rule trials made at prestigious laboratory of the Dutch Twente University, and field studies carried out at different sites, showed ecoGranic’s decontaminating efficiency at up to 56% of nitrous oxide degradation.
A sidewalk the size of a soccer field with ecoGranic would eliminate pollution from approximately 4,000 vehicles. Following the success of three streets repaved with ecoGranic in Spain’s capital, Madrid, Plaza de la Cruz, an entire 10,800 ft² (1,000 m²) square in La Rioja, was repaved with ecoGranic, following by another square in Santander.
The technology soon spread to dozens of cities across Spain. The Navarra company currently has two plants, one located in Tudela and another in Cabanillas with a production capacity of more than 54,000 ft² (5,000 m2) per day. While PVT has signed with China to supply their ecoGranic decontaminating pavement, its co-inventor José Luis Moracho is working on a domestic version.
Meanhile Aira has produced a bicycle and a scooter which, by carrying the PVT ecoGranic tile vertically below its front handlebars can absorb CO₂ as it moves along. (pvt.es)
The Soil Carbon Co. of Orange, New South Wales, Australia is developing a solution that allows plants to sequester way more carbon than they do naturally. On farms along the East Coast of Australia, growers are testing out the solution of planting seeds coated in microbial fungi and bacteria that can help capture CO2 from the air.
Farmers Mick Wettenhall & Guy Webb had been working together for over a decade on ways of building their soil carbon with methods like reduced-till, mixed cover crops and experimenting with compost, when their heard how Peter A. McGee of Sydney University had been developing recalcitrant soil carbon using fungi. More carbon in soils would not only give agronomic benefits but creates an opportunity for farmers to trade a new commodity: sequestered carbon.
They called this the Second Crop. If it were to be used on farmland globally, they calculated it could sequester around 8.5 gigatons of carbon every year—or around a quarter of total CO2 emissions. It could also store that carbon for a longer time than some “regenerative agriculture” techniques that also aim to capture carbon. The solution involves inoculating crops with symbiotic micro-organisms.
Not only do these microbes improve the host plant’s fertility and protection against disease, but they also help the soil around the plant’s roots to store carbon more effectively, leading to better quality soil for future planting. The “Second Crop” process also makes the soil healthier, so farmers should see better yields and be able to use less fertilizer. It’s a relatively simple change to make; farmers either buy microbe-coated seeds or coat their own seeds themselves, something that is commonly done with other products.
In June 2020 Soil Carbon Co raised A$10 million ($6.94 million) in seed funding in a round led by Horizons Ventures, the VC firm set up by Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing. After finishing trials in both Australia and the USA, the Second Crop system will be launched commercially. Unlike other solutions such as carbon-capture machines, it can scale up almost immediately and does not require the acquisition of new equipment.
There are around one billion farmers around the world working at the intersection of atmosphere and soil every day—and the infrastructure already in place.
CO2 must be captured as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.
Metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) are one class of crystalline adsorbent materials that are believed to be of huge potential in CO₂ capture applications because of their advantages such as ultrahigh porosity, boundless chemical tunability, and surface functionality over traditional porous zeolites and activated carbon.
Importantly, MOFs have the largest surface areas of any known material: the size of two American football fields (115.2 ft²/ 5.4 m²)) in a single gram, offering plenty of space for “guest molecules” such as CO2 to get caught in millions of molecular cages. The “ZIF-8” MOF is already being used to capture and store toxic gases, and it is cheap and easy to synthesise.
MOFs are coming of age. Their numbers have been mushrooming at an unprecedented rate since Omar M. Yaghi, a Jordanian-American chemist uncovered their potential nearly 20 years before, and today the structures of over 6000 new MOFs are published each year.
Stuart James, chair of inorganic chemistry at Queen’s University Belfast in the UK and co-founder of MOF Technologies, secured US$ 87,500 to work along 14 partners from 8 countries to develop and demonstrate the performance of MOF.
Christopher Wilmer, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has collaborated with Jan Steckel, research scientist at the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and Pittsburgh-based AECOM to develop a computational modeling method which may help to fast-track the identification and design of new carbon capture and storage materials such as MOF for use by the nation’s coal-fired power plants.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC Laboratory and Stanford University have taken the first images of CO₂ molecules captured within a MOF. The images, made at the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facilities, show two configurations of the CO₂ molecule in its cage, in what scientists call a guest-host relationship; reveal that the cage expands slightly as the CO₂ enters; and zoom in on jagged edges where MOF particles may grow by adding more cages.(moftechnlogies.com)
Researchers at the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), Kyoto University, Japan, along with colleagues at the University of Tokyo and Jiangsu Normal University in China have created an MOF they call a porous coordination polymer (PCP).
It has an organic component with a propeller-like as molecular structure, and as CO2 molecules approach the structure, they rotate and rearrange to permit CO2 trapping, resulting in slight changes to the molecular channels within the PCP. This allows it to act as molecular sieve that can recognize molecules by size and shape.
The PCP is also recyclable; the efficiency of the catalyst did not decrease even after 10 reaction cycles. After capturing the carbon, the converted material can be used to make polyurethane, a material with a wide variety of applications including clothing, domestic appliances, and packaging.
The researchers tested their material using X-ray structural analysis and found that it can selectively capture only CO2 molecules with ten times more efficiency than other PCPs thus opening up an avenue for future research into carbon capture materials.(icems.kyoto-u.ac.jp)
Bio-mimicking the precise ion selective filtering capabilities of a living cell, researchers at Monash University, CSIRO, the University of Melbourne with The University of Texas at Austin, have developed a synthetic MOF-based ion channel membrane that is precisely tuned, in both size and chemistry, to filter lithium ions in an ultra-fast, one-directional and highly selective manner.
This solution opens up the possibility to create a revolutionary filtering technology that could substantially change the way in which lithium-from-brine extraction is undertaken. Energy Exploration Technologies, Inc. (EnergyX) in Newark, California has executed a worldwide exclusive license to commercialise the technology. (monash.edu and energyx.com)
Simon Weston and a team at ExxonMobil, collaborating with Jeffrey Long, UC Berkeley professor of chemistry and of chemical and biomolecular engineering and senior faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and his group in UC Berkeley’s Center for Gas Separations, have developed a new material that could capture more than 90% of CO2 emitted from industrial sources using low-temperature steam, requiring less energy for the overall carbon capture process.
Laboratory tests indicate the patent-pending materials—tetraamine-functionalized metal organic frameworks—capture carbon dioxide emissions up to six times more effectively than conventional amine-based carbon capture technology. Using less energy to capture and remove carbon, the material has the potential to reduce the cost of the technology and eventually support commercial applications.
This is the result of eight years’ R&D. Tetraamine molecules are added to a magnesium-based MOF to catalyze the formation of polymer chains of CO2 that could then be purged by flushing with a humid stream of carbon dioxide. By manipulating the structure of the metal organic framework material, the team of scientists and students demonstrated the ability to condense a surface area the size of a football field, into just one gram of mass—about the same as a paperclip—that acts as a sponge for CO2.
Additional research and development will be needed to progress this technology to a larger scale pilot and ultimately to industrial scale.
Every year, 15 billion trees are destroyed from natural and anthropogenic causes. Despite US$ 50 billion a year spent on replanting, there remains an annual net loss of 6 billion trees. Governments have made commitments to restore 860 million ac (350 million ha) of degraded land, equivalent to an area the size of India, which could accommodate around 300 billion trees, by 2030.
Startups have created drone-planting systems that achieve an uptake rate of 75 % and decrease planting costs by 85 %. These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil, providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life. Two companies are using drones to step up the rate of tree-planting: BioCarbon Engineering founded by Lauren Fletcher and DroneSeed, founded by Grant Canary.
During the late 1990s, Lauren E. Fletcher, with a Master’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering was a space systems engineer at NASA Ames Research Center, specialising in bio engineering. In 2007, he was at the International Space University, then from 2008 to 2010 at Stanford University. From 2010 to 2019 Fletcher was a Doctoral student at Oxford University’s department of Physics on ”Project Mars on Earth.”
In 2009 by while Fletcher was at COP15 in Copenhagen, he became concerned about the state of our world: degrading climate, loss of natural environments, significant biodiversity losses, and a potential for global scale human suffering. After years of studying climate change and the environment, Fletcher asked himself how the damage of more than a century of anthropogenic development could be reversed. The answer, in part, is restoring the planet’s decimated forests, to counter industrial scale deforestation using industrial scale reforestation.
In 2013, Fletcher linked up with businessperson Susan Graham with a PhD in healthcare innovation to found the company called BioCarbon Engineering (BCE), based in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, UK, to plant at least 1 billion trees a year with drone swarms. To do this needed a technician.
Enter French drone engineer, Jeremie Leonard. From 2005 to 2007 Leonard studied at the Lycée Marcelin Berthelot, Saint Maur des Fossés, France, then at the Ecole Supérieure d’Electricité, at Gif Sur Yvette, Isle de France.
He then crossed the English Channel to study for his PhD at Cranfield University, between 2011 and 2014, where the aim of his thesis, named “Project Athena”, was to develop a fully autonomous swarm of medium-altitude, long-endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (MALE UAV) with integrated health management.
Leonard’s work encompassed research on mission planning, multi-agent control and swarm energy management. In 2014 Leonard was recruited by Fletcher to BioCarbon Engineering. The “seed-dropping” system developed by BCE uses satellite and drone-collected data to determine the best location to plant each tree.
The planting drones fire a biodegradable seedpod into the ground with pressurized air at each predetermined position at 120 seedpods per minute. They fly at an altitude of 3 to 7 ft. (1 to 2 m.) above the ground. A small pressurized canister provides the necessary propulsive force for the seedpods to easily penetrate the soil’s surface.
The seedpods are filled with a germinated seed, nutritious hydrogel, and other vital components. The pods break open upon impact allowing the germinated seeds to grow. These penetrate the earth, and, activated by moisture, grow into healthy trees.
Two operators equipped with 10 drones can plant 400,000 trees per day. Just 400 teams could plant 10 billion trees each year, with the capability to scale to tens of billions of trees annually. The fully automated and highly scalable BCE solution plants 150 times faster and 4-10 times cheaper than current methods. This technology provides a new tool enabling global enterprises and governments to meet their restoration commitments.
With initial funding in 2016, a patent “for automated planting” was applied for by Fletcher and his team. BCE began its full commercial operations with the first paid project in May 2017 at abandoned mine sites in Dungog in the Hunter Valey, New South Wales Australia that were in need of reforestation. They have executed nine projects in the UK, Australia, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Africa, and Morocco.
Environmentalists in Myanmar used to plant mangroves by hand. Myanmar has lost at least 2.5 million ac (1 million ha) of mangrove forest over the past several decades, making it more vulnerable to cyclones and climate change. Since 2012, Worldview has been able to plant over six million trees, which is a huge achievement already. However, with the help of the BCE drones, they could plant another four million by the end of 2019. Since the drones began their work in September, the saplings have grown to be 20 in (50 cm) tall.
In April 2018, BCE received a funding boost of US$2.5 million. The seed investment comes from SYSTEMIQ, a purpose-driven investment and advisory firm that aims to tackle economic system failures, and Parrot, the leading European drone group. Work in 2018 will expand to projects in the UAE, Canada, USA, Brazil, Peru, and Spain. Customers include private landholders, companies, non-governmental organisations, and governments.
In May 2018, Jeremie Leonard travelled to Canada to work with the Canadian Forest Service for the first-ever Canadian trial of using drones to plant tree seeds in northern Alberta. That year BCE changed its name to (Dendra Dendra is Greek for tree).
Dendra employs a combination of Wingtra and DJI M600 drones for pre-planting surveys as well as a custom Vulcan UAV for the seed spreading however much of the equipment they’re laden with has yet to be made available commercially. Dendra’s largest mapping drone can carry up to 22 kilograms of equipment and its sensors can resolve images at 2-3cm per pixel.
This enabled Dendra to plant an additional 4 million mangrove seedlings in 2019 alone.
In September 2020, backing by At One Ventures, Airbus Ventures, Future Positive Capital, and Chris Sacca’s LowerCarbon, Dendra raised $10 million to continue its program whereby just 400 teams of two drone operators, with 10 drones per team, could plant 10 billion trees each year, and at a much lower cost than the traditional method of planting by hand. The target is to plant 500 billion trees by 2060, in often hard-to-reach places. (dendra.io)
Dendra are not alone. DroneSeed based in Seattle, Washington also committed to reforestation efforts, has developed a plan for each planting area that maximises successful planting and tree growth. Understanding the environmental conditions of the site is paramount to successfully replanting the area.
Using Lidar, topographical 3D maps are made, photographs are taken with a multispectral camera to collect visual data, much of it outside of the realm of human detection, which can then be used for an analysis of the plants and soil before any planting can take place.
Using this data, actual planting locations are determined so that each seed package has a much greater chance of survival. With the resulting map, the drones fly autonomously, as many as five at a time, and are supported by a team that is ready to load up the drones and there in case of any setbacks. The drones use machine learning models, setting out to find various ‘microsites’ where the seeds will face better chances of survival. The seeds are pre-packaged into small bundles, filled with nutrients, and covered in the chemical capsaicin to keep hungry creatures at bay. It is this extra attention to detail which improves the odds of each tree’s future success.
After planting, the location is monitored and growth is optimized with fertilizer, herbicide and water, all of which are also applied by the drones. In addition to gathering data needed for planting, drones are also collecting data on growth, canopy cover and other factors which allow the creation of 3D models of the actual reforested area.
DroneSeed founder, Grant Canary M.A. of Seattle, Washington is an environmentalist with a love of outdoor sports. He has spent his entire carrier working within for-profit companies to benefit the environment including Vestas Wind Energy and the US Green Building Council.
He raised US$10 million and built a 60,000 ft² factory to pioneer the commercialization of black soldier flies (Hermetia illucens) to treat food waste and produce a sustainable supply of nutrients for sustainable salmon feed and agricultural uses.
He also founded BioSystems LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Enterra, based in Portland, Oregon. At a loss for what to do next in his career and was told by a friend that perhaps he should just go and plant trees.
Realising that tree reforestation needed intensifying, Canary founded DroneSeed. He recruited Matthew M. Aghai as his Director of Biological Research; John Thomson, a drone systems engineer, responsible for specifying, designing, and manufacturing heavy-lift flight systems and supporting hardware to enable company operations; and Robert A Krob, a software engineer.
They were soon joined by Matt Kunimoto, a drone systems technician who had built a hexacopter drone that uses image recognition to guide its flight autonomously in order to follow a custom pattern.
In 2015, DroneSeed first won the Beaverton, Oregon US$ 100,000 Challenge sponsored by the City of Beaverton and Oregon Technology and Business Center. Shortly after, they were one of the nine startups selected for Techstars Seattle 2016 out of over 1,000 applicants to the program.
With funding from Techstars, Social Capital, and Spero Ventures, to the tune of US$4.8 million, DroneSeed received the FAA’s first approval for up to five aircraft to be flown by a single pilot each carrying a 57 lb. (27 kg.) payload. The FAA classifies this exception as “precedent setting”, referring to the exceptional lengths DroneSeed has gone to prove out its ability to scale operations to larger payloads for multiple concurrent flights. At the time, no other drone operator in the USA could legally operate with such heavy lift aircraft.
The firm works for 3 of the 5 largest timber companies and recently signed a contract with The Nature Conservancy to restore post wildfire burn sites to combat the spread of wildfires and keep affected areas healthy. Their first planting project was in October 2018, replanting after the Grave Creek Fire which burned 2,800 ac (7,000 ha) near Medford, Oregon in 2018.
In 2018, the DroneSeed team was granted Patent N° 10,212,876 for “Aerial deployment planting methods and systems for making good use of recently obtained biometric data and for configuring propagule capsules for deployment via an unmanned vehicle so that each has an improved chance of survival.”
In 2019, following a massive wildfire in southwest Oregon DroneSeed were contracted by Northwest. Hancock Forest Management, a large international forest landowner and the Nature Conservancy Oregon to protect the ecosystem across the Pacific Northwest from invasive species. Drone swarms of up to five aircraft will be deployed to restore rangelands by re-seeding threatened areas, especially in sagebrush steppe habitats. Invasive weed species harm the sagebrush steppe, resulting in a huge swathe of plant loss. In fact, only 50 % of such plants still exist, with the remaining 50 % at risk of being lost in just the next 50 years. (droneseed.com)
NOW, founded by Jessica Jones, enables people to subscribe to support drone reforestation. Working with a nonprofit called Eden Reforestation Projects, the NOW will begin by supporting restoration projects in mangrove forests in Mozambique and Madagascar. But the company also began by planting trees itself using drones, beginning on tribal land near San Diego.
In 2020, Rashid Al Ghurair, founder of the Cafu fuel delivery app launched a mission to plant a million drought-tolerant Ghaf evergreen trees (Prosopis cineraria), across the UAE by drone within the next two years. On January 8th 2020, Al Ghurair dropped 4,000 seeds over 10,000 m² in pilot project in Sharjah Dubai If successful the project could be outsourced to wildfire affected regions like Australia and the Amazon. Each Ghaf tree can absorb 34.6 kg of CO² emissions per year.
Ultimately, hand-in-hand with humans, drones could help support much more massive tree planting, which would have a significant impact on climate change: researchers recently calculated that there is enough room to plant another 1.2 trillion trees, which could suck up more carbon each year than humans emit.
Natural trees and plants are limited in the quantity of CO2 they are able to sequester.
For two decades, Klaus S. Lackner (ex Los Alamos National Laboratory), and sustainability scientist, Allen Wright collaborated in a mission to create a machine that worked like a tree but was one thousand times more efficient.
Their mission was to develop a faux tree, bio-mimicking the form of the dragon blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari),in view of its wide branches and umbrella style of tops that can support the bigger sized solar panel that power the tree.
Treepod leaves would be made of papery plastic coated in a resin containing sodium carbonate, to pull CO2 out of the air then stores it as a bicarbonate (baking soda) on the leaf.
To remove the carbon dioxide, the leaves are rinsed in water vapour and can dry naturally in the wind, soaking up more carbon dioxide. Such leaves could be much more closely spaced and overlapped – even configured in a honeycomb formation to make them more efficient.
Lackner calculated that the treepod could remove 1 tonne of CO2 per a day. Ten million of these trees could remove 3.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to about 10% of our global annual carbon dioxide emissions. Total emissions could be removed with 100 million treepods, 1,000 times that in real trees would be required to have the same effect.
In 2014 Klaus Lackner and Allen Wright moved from Columbia to the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions in the School of Sustainable Engineering, at Arizona State University. There they also co-founded Global Research Technologies (GRT)—in Tucson, Arizona where they demonstrated the moisture swing.
In February 2020, working with ASU, Silicon Kingdom Holdings (SKH) in Dublin, Ireland agreed to build and deploy 12 clusters of treepods. Each cluster comprises 12 sorbent-filled columns and can remove one metric ton of CO2 per day. SKH will deploy the technology in a pilot farm targeting 100 metric tons of CO2 per.
The technology will then be deployed to large-scale farms of up to 120,000 MechanicalTrees capturing some 4 million tons of CO2 annually and occupying a land space of just 2 to 3 square kilometers (0.8 to 1.2 square miles) per farm. in multiple locations, each capable of removing 3.8 million metric tons annually.. The released gas is then collected, purified, processed used for other solutions as described elsewhere in 366solutions.
Most volcanoes lie close to the oceans, and every year millions of tonnes of volcanic ash falls into them and settles to the seafloor. Once there, it increases carbon storage in marine sediments and reduces atmospheric CO2 levels. But it remains in near the volcano
A team from the University’ of Southampton’s School of Ocean and Earth Science has modelled the impact of spreading volcanic ash from a ship to an area of ocean floor to help amplify natural processes which lock away CO2 in the seabed.
They found the technique has the potential to be cheaper, technologically simpler and less invasive than other techniques to remove harmful gases.
The scientists modelled the effect of distributing volcanic ash from a ship to an area of ocean. The results suggest that this method could sequester as much as 2300 tonnes of CO2 per 50,000 tonnes of ash delivered for a cost of $50 per tonne of CO2 sequestered – much cheaper than most other GGR methods.
In addition, the approach is simply an augmentation of a naturally occurring process, it does not involve expensive technology and it does not require repurposing valuable agricultural land.
A hefty slice of global GHG emissions come from the smelly bodily functions of livestock. Globally, livestock are responsible for burping (and a small amount from farting) the methane equivalent of 3.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, up to 14% of all greenhouse emissions from human activities.
Methane-reducing cow vaccine
Sinead C. Leahy, a microbiologist leading a team at AgResearch Ltd, one of New Zealand’s largest Crown Research Institutes, have developed a vaccine against certain gut microbes that are responsible for producing methane as the animals digest their food, in an effort to allow us to continue eating meat and dairy products while lessening the impact the livestock industry has on the environment.
The methane produced by ruminants comes from some 3% of the vast number of microbes that live in the rumen, the first section of the gut. The guilty organisms belong to an ancient group called the archaea, and they are capable of living in environments where there is no oxygen.
To weed out the bacteria responsible, however, Leahy and her colleagues had to find a way of reproducing the oxygen-free conditions of the rumen in their laboratory. Using DNA technology, they were then able to sequence the genomes of some of the key species.
Given by injection, the vaccine is designed to stimulate the animals’ output of anti-archaea antibodies in their saliva, which is then carried into the rumen as the animals swallow. AgResearch scientists have identified five different animal-safe compounds that can reduce methane emissions from sheep and cattle by 30% to 90%.
In the Netherlands, Stephane Duval and a team at DSM, have developed a compound called enzyme inhibitor 3-nitrooxypropanol (NOP) which reduces livestock methane emissions by more than one-third. The compound has an effect similar to other compounds being worked on by AgResearch, and the universities of Otago and Auckland. (dsm.com)
Another option is to give cattle probiotics, or helpful bacteria, to aid their digestion. Elizabeth Latham, a former researcher at Texas A&M University and co-founder of Bezoar Laboratories, has been developing a probiotic to tackle methane from cattle and claims it can reduce emissions by 50%. (bezoarlaboratories.com)
After a three-year experiment with a group of 50 cows, Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi and a team at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) in southern Israel have successfully manipulated cows’ microbiome so preventing them from emitting methane. The microbiome is an underexplored area scientifically, yet it exerts great control over many aspects of animal and human physical systems. Microbes begin to be introduced at birth and produce a unique microbiome which then evolves over time.
Mizrahi has also investigated the microbiome of fish and other species to prepare us for a world shaped by climate change. Engineering healthier fish is especially important as the oceans empty of fish and aquaculture becomes the major source of seafood.
We are putting too much carbon into our atmosphere.
A process for reducing CO₂ by converting it to ethanol has been developed by Michael Köpke at LanzaTech in Skokie, Illinois.
In 2009, Köpke obtained his PhD in microbiology and biotechnology at the University of Ulm, Germany, specialising the genetic engineering of gas fermenting organisms.
His pioneering research on Clostridium ljungdahlii demonstrated for the first time that gas fermenting acetogens can be genetically modified and provided a genetic blueprint of such an organism.
Köpke joined LanzaTech in Auckland, New Zealand, developing converting waste carbon monoxide emitted from factories into ethanol and other chemicals. LanzaTech’s carbon recycling technology is such as retrofitting a brewery onto an emission source such as a steel mill or a landfill site, but instead of using sugars and yeast to make beer, pollution is converted by bacteria to fuels and chemicals.
This is revolutionizing the way the world thinks about waste carbon by treating it as an opportunity instead of a liability.
In its first year, LanzaTech’s first pre-commercial plant in China produced over 100,000 gallons (380,000 liters) of ethanol from steel mill emissions that can be converted into aviation kerosene, plastic and products. This earned it an internationally recognized sustainability certification from the Roundtable of Sustainable Biomaterials in 2013.
Additional facilities may be built in California, Belgium, India, and South Africa. Together, they could produce about 77 million gallons (26 million litres) of ethanol per year from carbon waste.
In 2018, LanzaTech began testing a low carbon fuel for airplanes, which was used to fuel a Virgin Atlantic flight from Orlando to London. Initially its biofuel for Virgin only accounted for 6% of the fuel mix.
The company aims to officially launch its new LanzaJet product in 2019, which could be a potential solution for the airline industry to reduce its waste.
LanzaTech claimed it could have three gas-to-ethanol plants ready in the UK by 2025 if it secured the necessary airline customers and government backing, producing about 125 million gallons (473 million liters) of SAF a year.
In November 2019, after three years of collaboration, ExxonMobil and FuelCell Energy, Inc. signed a new, two-year expanded joint-development agreement to further enhance carbonate fuel cell technology for the purpose of capturing carbon dioxide from industrial facilities.
The agreement, worth up to US$60 million, will focus efforts on optimizing the core technology, overall process integration and large-scale deployment of carbon capture solutions. ExxonMobil is exploring options to conduct a pilot test of next-generation fuel cell carbon capture solution at one of its operating sites.
Professor David Beerling, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Climate Change Mitigation at the University of Sheffield and a team have shown that adding rock dust such as finely crushed basalt, a natural volcanic rock to all cropland soil in China, India, the U.S. and Brazil could trigger weathering that would remove more than 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and help meet key global climate targets.
One compelling aspect of enhanced weathering is that, in controlled-environment studies involving basalt amendments of soil, cereal grain yields are improved by roughly 20%.
The scientists suggest that meeting the demand for rock dust to undertake large-scale CO2 drawdown might be achieved by using stockpiles of silicate rock dust left over from the mining industry, and are calling for governments to develop national inventories of these materials.
Over the average 30-year lifecycle of a new building completed in 2019, roughly half if its carbon materials will come from embodied carbon. Considering that materials used for construction are estimated to consume 75 % of all new materials annually by volume, the case for reducing the carbon emissions embodied in building materials is clear.
For Skanska of New Jersey, the USA’s investment in addressing the embodied carbon challenge began in 2016, through its ongoing internal Innovation Grant program. Stacy Smedley, regional director of sustainability for Skanska’s building operations based in Seattle, Washington, received funding to research and establish embodied carbon benchmarks in partnership with the University of Washington’s Carbon Leadership Forum.
Working with with Phil Northcott of C Change Labs in Coquitlam, British Columbia, the program called was jointly seed-funded by Skanska and Microsoft. They determined that a collaborative, open-source solution, backed by a comprehensive database of digitized Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) was the best way to maximize the impact of this groundbreaking tool in reducing global carbon emissions.
There are over 16,000 materials in the database, including concrete, steel and gypsum. Professionals, contractors, and owners needing actionable data to make informed decisions about climate impact and performance will benefit.
In the fall of 2019, Skanska launched the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (“EC3”) web tool for a non-profit alliance of AEC firms, manufacturers, foundations, and building owners including the Carbon Leadership Forum, American Institute of Architects, American Institute of Steel Construction, Skanska, Autodesk, Arup, Interface, the MKA Foundation, Charles Pankow Foundation, ACI Foundation, Microsoft and 30 other industry leaders. (usa.skanska.com)
In 2020, Costain-Skanska Joint Venture (CSjv) and Skanska-Costain-Strabag have developed the EasyCabin EcoSmart ZERO for building sites, its hydrogen and solar power replacing the traditional diesel generator. to achieve Skanska’ commitment to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.
What you can do: Inform builders and architects in your region about EC3
Oil created from recycled carbon dioxide, water, and electricity with a process powered by renewable energy sources.
E-diesel is considered to be a carbon-neutral fuel as it does not extract new carbon and the energy sources to drive the process are from carbon-neutral sources
From the early 2000s, Nils Aldag, Carl Berninghausen and Christian von Olshausen began to research into sustainable diesel. Electrolysers are energy converters that turn clean electrons into hydrogen.
They founded Sunfire GmbH in Dresden in 2009. Inspired by photosynthesis, Sunfire’s proprietary technology can be used to turn hydrogen efficiently into liquid hydrocarbons such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel or waxes for the chemical industry (power-to-products). Alternatively, hydrogen can be used in the industry or H2-mobility.
Sunfire achieved the technological breakthrough within the framework of the Kopernikus project Power-to-X, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), in conjunction with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
A co-electrolysis plant (10 kilowatts DC, up to 4 Nm³/h synthesis gas) was delivered to Karlsruhe, where it was combined with technologies from Climeworks (Direct Air Capture), INERATEC (Fischer-Tropsch Synthesis) and KIT (Hydrocracking) in a container to produce a self-sufficient facility.
The target was to demonstrate the integrated production of e-Crude by the end of August 2019. Already by 2017 Sunfire had produced 3 tons (2.7 tonnes) of Blue Crude.
Concept proved, Sunfire began the process of scaling-up the high-temperature co-electrolysis process to an industrial scale—initially with an input power of 150 kW (DC)—as part of the “SynLink” project funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
The plant was built in Norway for use by Nordic Blue Crude, the Norwegian project partner. By 2020, using 20 MW of input power, it will be producing 2.6 million gallons (10 million liters) or 8,800 tons (8,000 tonnes) of the synthetic crude oil substitute e-Crude annually on the basis of 20 MWs of input power.
The Bavarian car firm Audi and the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, are both project partners. Prominent investors include the French oil company Total, the Czech energy company ČEZ and the investment funds Electranova Capital and Bilfinger Venture Capital; insurance giant Allianz and automobile maker PSA are also sponsors.
The plant would avoid emissions of around 21,000 t/y of CO₂ by using waste industrial heat and renewable energy. Sunfire has been able to attract prominent investors such as Total Energy Ventures, Electranova Capital, IdInvest and KfW Bank. (sunfire.de)
100 days ago, on September, 1, 2020, we began publishing one solution per day about cleaning up, repairing and protecting our Planet, with the bottom line of “What you can do!” If you look at our growing Encouragements page, you will see several approving comments for our simple approach. We welcome comments for all who visit our pages, not only on this website, but also your “likes” on our dedicated Facebook page, and you can also find us on Instagram and Twitter.
Onwards to 200 solutions!
Kevin, Jeff, Helen and Josh
What you can do: Follow and share 366solutions and tell your friends about ways we all can clean up, repair and protect our planet!
The dependency on concrete and steel to build everything from homes to sports stadiums comes at a severe environmental cost. Concrete is responsible for 4 – 8% of the world’s CO₂ emissions.
Some architects are therefore arguing for – and pressing ahead with – a return to wood as our primary building material. Wood from managed forestry actually stores carbon as opposed to emitting it: as trees grow, they absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. As a rule of thumb, 35 cubic ft. (1 cubic meter) of wood contain around a tonne of CO² more or less, depending on the species of tree.
Cross-laminated timber, or CLT, has become the primary material on the construction site. It is an “engineered wood”, the planks of which are made stronger by gluing them in layers of three, with each layer perpendicular to the other. This means that the CLT does not bow or bend, it has integral strength in two directions allowing the manufacture of plates or surfaces – or walls.
It is a plywood made of boards that can reach enormous dimensions: between 7.8 ft. (2.40 m) and 13 ft. (4.00 m) high, and up to 40 ft. (12 m) long. CLT is a renewable, green and sustainable material, since it is made out of wood and does not require the burning of fossil fuels during production. CLT, however, is below 1% adhesive, and typically uses a bio-based polyurethane. The planks are bonded together under heat and pressure to fuse that small amount of adhesive using the moisture of the wood.
CLT was first developed and used in Germany and Austria in 1994 after Austrian-born researcher Gerhard Schickhofer at Graz University of Technology presented his PhD thesis research on CLT, “Starrer und nachgiebiger Verbund bei geschichteten, flächenhaften Holzstrukturen” (“Rigid and resilient composite in layered, flat wood structures”).
This was partly in response to the death of the furniture and paper industries. 60 % of Austria is forest and they needed to find a new sales outlet.
Indeed it was Austria which published “Holzmassivbauweise”, the first national CLT guidelines in 2002, based on Schickhofer’s extensive research. These national guidelines are credited with paving a path for the acceptance of engineered elements in multi-story buildings.
Many CLT factories in Austria are even powered by renewable biomass using the offcuts, branches and twigs. Some factories produce enough electricity to power the surrounding communities. (tugraz.at)
Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) and Dowel-Laminated Timber (DLT) have been revived, while stick-framing started looking good again because it is so efficient in its use of wood.
An increasing number of architects now build tall with CLT, allowing the construction of buildings with up to 30 floors for the 180 ft. (53m) Brock Commons Tallwood House, in Vancouver, in Canada, up to 18 floors in Finland and in Sshickhofer’s native country, the 276 ft (84m), 24-storey ‘HoHo Tower’ nearing completion in the Seestadt Aspern area of Vienna, Austria.
76 % of the latter structure will be constructed from CLT, which will save a 2,800 tonnes of CO₂ emissions over similar structures built out of steel and concrete. Moreover, 1 m³ of concrete weighs approximately 2.7 tons (2.5 tonnes), while 35 cubic ft. (1 m³) of CLT weighs 882 lbs (400 kg) and has the same resistance. The same goes for steel.
Completed in March 2019 after two years of construction, the 280 ft (85.4 m) “Mjøstårnet” 18-storey skyscraper, located in Brumunddal, some 60 mi (100 km) north of Oslo is built in CLT. It takes its name from Lake Mjøsa, on the edge of which it was built.
Designed by Voll Arkitekter its timber was located and prepared within a radius of 10 mi (15 km) around the tower. Containing apartments, hotel, a 10,760 ft² (4,700 m²) swimming hall. office space and a restaurant, it has been declared “The Tallest Timber Building in the World.” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.
In 2019, Gerhard Schickhofer, Head of the Institute of Timber Engineering and Wood Technology at Graz University of Technology, was awarded the Marcus Wallenberg of SEK 2 million (US$ 209,000).
What you can do: Live and work in buildings constructed using CLT
There were a total of 1.06 billion credit cards in 2017 and the projection for 2022 is close to 1.2 billion. Cards are made of several layers of plastic laminated together. The core is commonly made from a plastic resin known as polyvinyl chloride acetate (PVCA). This resin is mixed with opacifying materials, dyes, and plasticizers to give it the proper appearance and consistency. This bodes badly for landfills.
A personal CO2 calculator.
In 2008, Discover launched a “green” credit card made of biodegradable PVC, 99 % of which can be absorbed back into the environment given the right conditions. Discover contended that, with exposure to soil, water, compost, and other microorganisms, the card will degrade completely within nine months to 5 years.
But can a biodegradable card do more than facilitate purchases? Having worked for nearly ten years in Sweden’s banking and insurance section, when Nathalie Green was faced with the inertia of large institutions to respond to the climate change emergency, she decided to leave her post and dedicate all her energy to the creation of products to accelerate the ecological transition.
Founding a company called Doconomy, Nathalie conceived “Do”, a mobile application that measures CO2 emissions from our purchases. From there on, Doconomy has progressed to the Do-Card, incorporating technology from the Ålands Bank Index, a Finnish financial tool that uses big data to match every purchase with the most accurate estimation of CO2 emissions related to its production and consumption.
Specifically, each time the card is used, its owner receives an alert that indicates the carbon footprint of the purchase. For example, at a checkout, he will know that the purchase of jeans is 70 lb (32 kg) of CO2. Those who sign up to DO will receive access to a free savings account that helps them understand their carbon footprint, learn about UN-certified climate compensation projects, and discover investment funds that have a positive impact on people and the planet.
The card itself is made of bio-sourced material and is printed with Air-Ink, which was our Solution #6 and with no magnetic strip is the first of its kind in the world. For this solution, Doconomy is working with Mastercard via their global network, reaching and levering the power of consumers all over the world and direct capital towards sustainable initiatives. In October 2020 when Mastercard launched the expansion of the Priceless Planet Coalition to support planting 100 million trees, Doconomy was one of the 33 banking partners.
What you can do: Buy and use a Do-Card and tell your friends about it.
It’s great to capture CO2, but it needs to be stored.
Inject carbon dioxide into spaces under the seabed.
In January 2019, the Norwegian authorities granted the Northern Lights CCS Project, a full-scale pilot CCS, carried out by Equinor (former Statoil), Shell and Total, a permit to exploit an area in the North Sea for CO₂ injections.
The partners aim to capture CO2 at three plants in Southern Norway, liquefy it, and transport it over 430 mi (700 km) by ship to a hub near Kollsnes. From there, the CO₂ will be sent offshore via a pipeline for injection into a depleted well in the Johansen formation, about 20 miv(30 km) offshore from mainland Norway.
The three plants selected for CO2 capture are Yara’s Ammonia plant in Porsgrunn, Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik, and the Fortum recycling plant in Oslo.
After completing feasibility studies for CO₂ capture in 2018, the plants are presently compiling FEED studies for the final investment decision, to be taken by the Norwegian Parliament in 2020/21.
The Northern Lights CCS Project is supported by CLIMIT, Norway’s national research programme for accelerating the commercialisation of CCS. CLIMIT aims to reach an annual CO2 capture capacity of 1.4 million tons (1.3 million tonnes) by 2022.
In May 2020 Equinor, Shell and Total made an initial investment of $680m (NOK 6.9bn) between them into the Northern Lights (CCS) project. The project will capture industrial and imported carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions to be injected into reserves from a terminal in Øygarden, on Norway’s west coast. (northernlightsccs.com)
Tip Meckel at the Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin and Philip Ringrose, an adjunct professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and geoscientist at the Equinor Research Centre in Trondheim, have calculated that the geological injection of CO₂ into 10,000 to 14,000 injection wells worldwide in the next 30 years, would meet the IPCC’s goal of using CCS to provide 13 % of worldwide emissions cuts (6 to 7 gigatons of CO₂) so achieving emissions cuts under the 2°C scenario by 2050. (beg.utexas.edu)
In September 2020, the Norwegian Government proposed to launch a $2.7 billion CCS project, named ‘Longship’, in Norwegian ‘Langskip’.
Apart from funding Northern Lights, the Government will implement carbon capture at Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik as well as funding Fortum Oslo Varme’s waste incineration facility in Oslo, providing that the project secures sufficient own funding as well as funding from the EU or other sources.
Another first-time licence, allowing offshore exploration to select a site for storing CO₂ underground, was granted in December 2018 by the UK Oil and Gas Authority (OGA),. The holder of the licence is the Acorn CCS project, led by Pale Blue Dot Energy and centred on the St Fergus Gas Plant in northeast Scotland.
The project aims to capture 220,000 tons (0.2 million tonnes) of CO₂ from flue gases annually, for storage in depleted gas fields, beneath the North Sea. Instead of creating new infrastructure, existing offshore gas pipelines will be repurposed to transport CO₂ in the opposite direction.
In January 2019, the project estimated the available offshore storage capacity at 700 million tons (650 million tonnes) of CO₂ and suggested that the neighbouring port at Peterhead could be used to import 16 million tonnes of CO₂ for storage per year by ship, from the UK and Europe.
Before starting CO₂ injections, the Acorn project needs to apply for a storage permit from OGA, as soon a storage site has been selected.
In December 2018, the British government announced financial support for the project (£0.17 million). Earlier British CCS projects such as the Scottish Peterhead Project did not obtain public funds, after completion of the FEED studies.
At the end of April 2019, a research vessel left the Scottish coast to reach the Goldeneye Gas Platform, an abandoned offshore platform in the North Sea, about 60 mi (100 km) northeast of Peterhead.
A central part of the STEMM-CCS (Strategies for Environmental Monitoring of Marine Carbon Capture & Storage) project is a sub-seabed CO₂ release experiment. 3.3 tons (3 tonnes) of CO₂, augmented with inert chemical tracers, will be injected below the seafloor at the Goldeneye experimental site.
The experiment aims to test CO₂ leak detection and leak quantification with help of chemical sensors. The project receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
This initiative is supported by an analysis made by a team of scientists led by Jonathan Scafidi and a team of scientists at the School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh of the Beatrice oilfield, 15 mi. (24 km) off the north-east coast of Scotland. Using a computer model, the team calculated that over a 30-year period, the scheme would be around 10 times cheaper than decommissioning the Beatrice oil field, which is such likely to cost more than US$ 340 million.
While trees absorb significant amounts of carbon dioxide, there are issues with deforestation – we need more ways to take carbon out of the air.
Much of the world’s seaweed is produced in large sea-based farms off the coasts of China, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.
With a global production of 19 million (17.3 million tonnes), seaweed aquaculture is second only in volume to the farming of freshwater fish.
A new study conducted by scientists at UC Santa Barbara found that if 9% of the world’s ocean surface were used for seaweed farming, this would sequester 58 billion tons (53 billion tonnes) of CO₂ from the atmosphere. This is just from the absorption of carbon during the growing process.
What makes seaweed a particularly appealing carbon sink is its growth rate: about 30 to 60 times the rate of land-based plants.
Grown in these quantities, seaweed may be used for the reduction of methane in cows, edible water bubbles, drinking straws and other non SUP materials.
Cement production is a major source of CO2 in the world: 5 – 7% of total emissions.
Store carbon IN the concrete.
For almost a decade, Ifsttar (French Institute for Science and Technology in Transportation, Planning and Networks) has been searching for a method to store CO2 by the carbonation of recycled concrete.
Once the Accelerated Carbonation of Recycled Concrete Aggregates (ACRAC) project ended in 2013, five years later a new project was launched called FastCarb.
In this, Ifsttar has been working with IREX (Institute for Applied Research and Experimentation in Civil Engineering) and MTES (Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition).
The aim of FastCarb is to store CO2 in an accelerated manner, to improve the quality of these aggregates by blocking porosity and ultimately to reduce the CO2 impact of concrete in the structures.
This would recover about 20% of the CO2 initially released during the manufacture of a given concrete, i.e. 88-132 lb per cubic ft (40 to 60 kg per m³).
There is virtually blanket scientific consensus that atmospheric CO₂ is the root cause of man made climate change (AGW – Anthropogenic Global Warming), and that humanity must stop burning fossil fuels to halt it. Recently, however, there has also been growing consensus that carbon already in the atmosphere needs to be reduced.
Carbon capture systems
In Switzerland, Christoph Gebald and Jan André Wurzbacher, engineering students at ETH Zürich, developed a concept of a modular CO₂ collector as well as a working prototype for their Masters degree in Renewable Energy. It involved giant fans that would draw in the air and bind carbon molecules into filters.
In Hinwil, Zurich, with funding from the European Union to partner with Reykjavik energy Climeworks’ plant with its 18 units was capable of capturing 900 tonnes of CO₂ in a year directly from the air, enough to grow vegetables in a nearby greenhouse.
Its technology is based on a cyclic capture-regeneration process using a filter made of porous granulates modified with amines. Fans suck in atmospheric CO₂ that chemically binds to the filter’s surface.
Once saturated, the filter is then heated to around 100°C, releasing high-purity gaseous CO₂. According to Climeworks, the filters can operate for several thousand cycles before needing to be replaced.
In 2016, Climeworks having announced participation in four leading European CO₂ conversion projects (Kopernikus Power-to-X, STORE&GO, and Celbicon), was chosen as one of 20 companies to present its technology as a potential solution to meeting climate targets at the COP22 UN Climate Change Conference 2016 in Marrakech.
In 2017, having built the production infrastructure with a capacity of more than hundred CO₂ collectors per year, Climeworks commissioned the world’s first commercial-scale direct air capture plant.
In June 2020, Climeworks attracted US$30.8 million in a private funding round to ramp up its production to hit its ambitious plans of capturing 1 % of annual CO₂ emissions by 2025.
In August 2020, Climeworks, Carbfix and ON Power agreed to build a new plant at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Park in Iceland to significantly scale-up carbon removal and storage. The plant will draw on a reliable supply of renewable geothermal energy to power Climeworks’ DAC technology.
Carbon Engineering (CE) in Calgary, Alberta, Canada takes a different approach of converting a 1 ton concentrated CO₂ (Direct Air Capture) into 1 barrel of clean liquid fuel per day.
CE’s investors include Bill Gates, Murray Edwards, Oxy Low Carbon Ventures, LLC, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BHP. CE has been well supported within the clean-tech innovation system and has led projects funded by top-tier government agencies in both Canada and the USA.
CE grew from academic work conducted on carbon management technologies by Professor David Keith’s research groups at the University of Calgary and Carnegie Mellon University.
Founded in 2009, a scalable pilot plant in Squamish, B.C was built and developed. CE is privately owned and is funded by investment or commitments from private investors and government agencies.
Global Thermostat (GT), a privately funded carbon capture company located in Manhattan, New York was founded in 2010 to developed a DAC system where amine based sorbents are bonded to porous, honeycomb ceramic “monoliths” which act together as carbon sponges.
These carbon sponges efficiently adsorb CO₂ directly from the atmosphere, smokestacks, or a combination of both. The captured CO₂ is then stripped off and collected using low-temperature steam (85-100° C), ideally sourced from residual/process heat at little or no-cost.
The output results in 98% pure CO₂ at standard temperature and pressure. During the process only steam and electricity are consumed, without the creation of emissions or other effluents. This entire process is mild, safe, and carbon negative.
GT plants would be completely modular – from a single 50,000 tonne/yr. Module to a 40-Module, 2MM tonne/yr. Plant, and larger – a GT plant grows by adding more modules. In June 2019, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company and GT signed a joint development agreement to examine the scalability of GT’s DAC system.
If technical readiness and scalability is established, pilot projects at ExxonMobil facilities could follow. (globalthermostat.com)
The Texas Clean Energy Project (TCEP) near Odessa, USA, is being developed by Karl E. Mattes and a team at Summit Power Group in Seattle to build of the world’s first Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) green-field natural gas-fired clean-coal power plant.
TCEP is designed for 90% carbon capture, which is projected to be 2.7 million tons of CO2 per year. The potential carbon captured by the plant will be used for enhanced oil recovery in the West Texas Permian Basin. (summitpower.com)
In July 2019, a team at the RFF-CMCC European Institute on Economics and the Environment (EIEE) explored the use of DAC in multiple computer models. It showed that a “massive” and energy-intensive rollout of the technology could cut the cost of limiting AGW to 1.5° or 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
But the study also highlighted the “clear risks” of assuming that DAC will be available at scale, with global temperature goals being breached by up to 0.8C if the technology then fails to deliver. DAC should be seen as a “backstop for challenging abate ment” where cutting emissions is too complex or too costly.
The $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE is a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials, alternative fuels and other items that we use every day.
This four-and-a-half-year global competition challenges teams to transform the way the world addresses carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through breakthrough circular carbon technologies that convert carbon dioxide emissions from power plants into valuable products.
In April 2018, at Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Future of Energy Summit in New York City, ten finalists were chosen from a field of 27 semi-finalists by an independent judging panel of eight international energy, sustainability and CO2 experts.
Each took home an equal share of a $5 million milestone prize. One of these, the University of California, Los Angeles, have developed their Carbon Upcycling UCLA system to siphon half a ton of CO2 per day from the Dry Fork power plant’s flue gas and produce 10 tons of concrete daily.
Together with four other finalists, including CarbonCure, a Canadian startup making greener concrete, and Carbon Capture Machine, a Scottish venture focused on building materials, UCLA competed in Wyoming, while another five teams competed at a natural gas plant in Alberta, Canada.
After Wyoming, the teams must dismantle their systems and haul them to Wilsonville, Alabama where they must repeat a three-month pilot at the National Carbon Capture Center, a research facility sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.
What you can do: Continue to reduce your CO2 emissions wherever possible.
There is virtually blanket scientific consensus that atmospheric CO₂ is the root cause of this rapid AGW, and that humanity must stop burning fossil fuels to halt it. Recently, however, there has also been growing consensus that decarbonisation on its own will not be enough.
Capture the air and store it safely.
Several direct air capture (DAC) systems are in operation, in Iceland, in Switzerland, In Canada and in the USA.
In 2006, CarbFix was initiated jointly by the Icelandic President, Dr Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, Einar Gunnlaugsson at Reykjavík Energy, Wallace S. Broecker at Columbia University, Eric H. Oelkers at CNRS Toulouse (France), and Sigurður Reynir Gíslason at University of Iceland to limit GHG emissions in Iceland.
Before the injection into subsurface basalt started in CarbFix, the consensus within the scientific community was that it would take decades to thousands of years for the injected CO₂ to mineralise.
During the first 6 years of the project, the main focus was to optimize the method through lab experiments, studies of natural analogues, and characterization of the CarbFix pilot injection site, often referred to as the CarbFix1, located 0.6 mi ( 3 km) SW of the Hellisheidi power plant in south-west Iceland. Design and construction of gas capture, injection and monitoring equipment was carried out simultaneously.
From January to March 2012, 193 tons (175 tonnes) of pure CO₂ were dissolved and injected into subsurface basalt at about 1600 ft (500 m) depth at about 35°C, and from June to August, 73 tonnes of 75% CO₂-25% H2S gas mixture from the Hellisheidi geothermal plant were injected under the same conditions.
Research results published in 2016 would indicate that 95% of the injected CO₂ had been solidified into calcite within 2 years, using 25 tonnes of water per tonne of CO₂.
Following the success of the pilot injections, the process was scaled up to industrial scale at Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, with injection of 65% CO₂-35%H2S gas mixture at about half a mile (800 m) depth and about 230°C at the Husmuli injection site, located 1 mi (1,5 km) northeast of the power plant.
The injection has been an integral part of the operation of the Hellisheidi Power Plant since June 2014.
In 2016, the injection operations at the Hellisheidi Plant were scaled up again, doubling the amount of gases injected. In 2017, 10,000 tonnes of CO₂ were “digested” by CarbFix.
The injection is ongoing today and at the end of 2018, approximately 37,500 tons (34,000 tonnes) of CO₂ had been captured and injected at Hellisheidi.
At current capturing capacity, approximately 1/3 of the CO₂ and about 3/4 of the H2S emissions from the plant are being re-injected, or approximately (11,ooo tons (10,000 tonnes) of CO₂ and about 6,000 tonnes of H2S annually
Reykjavik Energy had supplied the initial funding for CarbFix. Further funding has been supplied by the European Commission and the Department of Energy of the United States. In addition to finding a new method for permanent carbon dioxide storage, another objective of the project was to train scientists for years of work to come.
Several universities and research institutes have participated in the project under the scope of EU funded sub-projects, including Amphos 21, Climeworks and the University of Copenhagen.
Recently carbon capture and storage approach has been upscaled at Hellisheiði and ongoing research is implementing this approach at other sites across Europe, thanks to the ubiquity of basalt which covers most of the oceanic floors and around 10% of the continents. Large basaltic areas are to be found in Siberia, Western India, Saudi Arabia and the Pacific Northwest.
In June 2019, A Letter of Intent was signed between the Prime Minister of Iceland, Reykjavík Energy, the Aluminium and Silicon Industry in Iceland (Elkem, Fjarðarál, PCC and Rio Tinto), the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources, the Ministry of Industries and Innovation and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture for exploring further exploitation of the CarbFix method for large emitters in Iceland was signed in Reykjavík.
The companies will each look for ways to realize carbon neutrality in 2040, as stated in the announcement from the Government Offices.
Carbon capture should be turned to something useful.
Markus D. Herrema, founder of NewLight Technologies of Huntington Beach, California has found a way to use a specially developed micro-organism-based biocatalyst (similar to an enzyme) to turn waste gas captured from air into a bioplastic called AirCarbon, a naturally-occurring biopolymer that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.
The biocatalyst pulls carbon out of methane or carbon dioxide from farms, water treatment plants, landfills, or energy facilities, then combines it with hydrogen and oxygen to synthesize a biopolymer material.
AirCarbon can be used in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, and injection molding applications to make products, including phone cases and furniture.
Herrema, who graduated magna cum laude High Honors from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Political Theory, with additional work in Physics, Mathematics, and Chemistry, founded NewLight in 2003.
He was assisted by Kenton Kimmel in the design, scale-up, and optimization of the company’s gas-to-plastic technology, including the engineering, construction, commissioning, and optimization of the Company’s production lines, as well as the detailed engineering of Newlight’s commercial production facility.
Since commercial scale-up in 2013, Newlight has developed commercialization relationships with Dell, Sprint, Virgin, KI, HP, and The Body Shop. In 2015, Newlight executed a 19 billion pound off-take agreement with Vinmar International as well as 10 billion pounds in licensed production.
The following year, Paques Holdings in Balk, the Netherlands entered into a 15-year technology license agreement that would allow Paques to manufacture, process, and sell bioplastics based on Newlight’s proprietary GHG to AirCarbon™ conversion technology, at a rate of up to 1.4 million tons (1.3 million tonnes) per year.
In recognition of Newlight’s technological and commercialization achievements, Newlight was awarded “Innovation of the Year” by “Popular Science” in 2014, “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum in 2015, “Technology Excellence Award” by “PC Magazine” in 2014, “Company of the Year” by CleanTech OC in 2014, “Biomaterial of the Year” by the Nova-Institute in 2013, and an R&D 100 Award as “one of the 100 most significant innovations of the year” in 2013.
During the past 150 years billions of tons of chemical fertilizers have been added to the planet’s soil, many of them harmful.
A ‘charcoal’ made from biomass like wood, manure and leaves, and produces a soil enhancer that holds carbon and makes soil more fertile, reduces agricultural waste and more: Biochar.
Pre-Columbian Amazonians are believed to have used biochar to enhance soil productivity. They seem to have produced it by smouldering agricultural waste in pits or trenches. European settlers called it terra preta de Indio.
Following observations and experiments during 2006, a research team working in French Guiana hypothesized that the Amazonian earthworm Pontoscolex corethrurus was the main agent of fine powdering and incorporation of charcoal debris in the mineral soil to produce tropical soil fertility.
As high yield biochar can be produced through torrefaction or slow pyrolysis, unlike the conventional burning of wood or plant matter, the carbon stored up through photosynthesis is not released back into the atmosphere which has a significant effect on reducing AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) through the reduction of GHG (Greenhouse Gases).
Livestock manure, along with waste-feed residues and bedding materials, is a potential source of biochar.
Pro-Natura International has developed a continuous process of pyrolysis of vegetable waste (agricultural residues, renewable wild-grown biomass) transforming them into green charcoal.
This domestic fuel performs the same as
charcoal made from wood, at half the cost. It represents a freeing up from the constraints of scarcity, distance and cost of available fuels in Africa.
The first pilot program operated at Pro-Natura’s plant in Ross Bethio, Senegal.
Research worldwide into biochar has seriously increased over the past decade, and in India specifically, the number of studies on biochar has gone up in the past five years.
A lab at the University of Zurich is working on understanding how biochar can be effectively used and have conducted field trials in Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Nepal, North America, Indonesia, Madagascar, Zambia, and importantly in India where, for over 12 years, Zurich has been collaborating with GKVK College of Agriculture and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru.
On a farm near Manjimup in south-west Australia, since 2012 dung beetles have been working with cowpats to develop biochar which is then added to the cattle’s feed and reduces their methane emissions and also enriches the soil.
Find out more about some of the prominent companies currently functional in the global biochar market which is expected to reach around US$ 3.82 billion by 2025:
But rather than turning atmospheric CO2 into a source of fuel for itself, the artificial leaf converts it into a useful alternative fuel.
Making methanol from carbon dioxide, the primary contributor to global warming, would both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide a substitute for the fossil fuels that create them.
The key to the process is a cheap, optimized red powder called cuprous oxide (Cu2O).
Engineered to have as many eight-sided particles as possible, the powder is created by a chemical reaction when four substances – glucose, copper acetate, sodium hydroxide and sodium dodecyl sulfate – are added to water that has been heated to a particular temperature.
It is mixed with water, carbon dioxide is blown into the solution, a solar simulator directs a beam of white light at it and the Cu2O acts as the catalyst, or trigger, for another chemical reaction.
This reaction produces oxygen, as in photosynthesis, while also converting the carbon dioxide in the water-powder solution into methanol, which is collected from evaporation.
Next steps in the research include increasing the methanol yield and commercializing the patented process to convert carbon dioxide collected from major greenhouse gas sources such as power plants, vehicles and oil drilling.
Desertification is a serious threat to arid and semiarid environments which cover 40% of the global land surface and are populated by approximately 1 billion humans. Of the 588 million acres (238 million hectares) that make the total land area of Algeria, 200 million are natural deserts, 20 million represent the steppe regions threatened by desertification.
During The War of Independence, between 1954 and 1962, Algeria’s forest heritage had suffered serious damage as a result of the French occupation army’s aerial bombardments.
In a program launched in 1970 by Saïd Grim and backed by President Houari Boumediene, the past forty years have seen a reforestation program of the vast steppe of Algeria to counter desertification.
Today ‘The Green Dam’ (also called ‘The Green Wall’ and ‘alsadu al’akhdar aljazayiriu’ in Arabic) covers an area of 930 mi (1500 km) by 12 mi (20 km): or 7.5 million acres (3 million hectares).
Driving back the desert is an ongoing task, though. A study on the rehabilitation and extension of the Dam was launched in 2012, an action plan was proposed in 2016, meetings and workshops held in 2018.
In 2019, Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa, claimed to have planted 4 billion trees in three months. The Green Legacy Initiative was championed by the country’s Nobel peace prize-winning Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.
The highlight was on 29 July when Ethiopians across the country turned out to help with planting 350 million tree seedlings over a 12-hour period. They gave a very precise number – 353,633,660 trees planted that day. A further 1.3 billion seedlings were grown, but not planted.
The Gambia, which is one of the poorest countries in western Africa, launched a large project to restore 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) of forests, mangroves, and savannas, using climate-resilient tree and shrub species.
The six-year project will be implemented in four of The Gambia’s seven regions, and aims to make over 57,000 people more resilient to the negative effects of climate change. Of these people 11,550 will benefit directly, and 46,200 indirectly.
Fossil-fuel gasoline automobile exhausts pollute and damage health in crowded cities.
A machine called Kaalink for recycling their soot to generate ink for printers, has been invented by Anirudh Sharma of India. Between 2013 and 2015 Sharma co-led activities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab India Initiative consortium to help shape self-organized, design-led innovation in India.
During a visit to his Indian home in 2013, Sharma noticed that his friend’s clothing was stained by air pollution. After experimenting for more than a year to see whether pollution rejected by vehicles was a resource recycling idea, Sharma realised that his invention would not help India if he set up office in the US.
So, in 2013 he returned to India and, along with three researcher friends, co-founded Graviky Labs in Bengaluru. Initially when they were experimenting with a new technology, there was no set guidance available in the market.
They conducted several experiments to understand the optimum technique for harvesting pollution from fossil fuel combustion sources. By 2016, the team started to retrofit Kaalink machines to car engine exhaust pipes in Bengaluru.
They were able to capture approximately 95 % or 1.6 kg of the particulate matter pollution without inducing back-pressure. Kaalinks were manually and individually installed by drivers, and after about two weeks of city driving were traded in at a Graviky Labs.
The machines could also be fitted to motorboats and to chimneys.
Graviky then set about converting the captured raw material into a black ink they called Air-Ink. An ounce of ink (28 gm) is produced by about 45 minutes of exhaust. Sharma and his team then built a prototype to test their ink’s printability.
They assembled a Nicolas’ ink shield with Arduino interfaced with their soot-catcher pump design. This shield allowed them to connect a HP C6602 inkjet cartridge to their Arduino2015 turning it into a 96dpi print platform.
It only used 5 pins which could be jumper-selected to avoid other shields. For the project they had to widen the holes of the cartridge to let the ink out, since the size of the particles in Air-Ink is much larger than the fine industrial ink.
Conventional black ink is one of the most consumed products in the industry. Most of this printing ink is produced in factories with complex chemical procedures.
Companies such as HP/Canon make 70 % of their profits by selling these cartridges at 400% margin. Air-Ink presented a far more economic option.
In August 2016, Graviky Labs, in partnership with Tiger Beer,Heineken Global, next linked up with international artists to spread the message of environment conservation.
They collaborated with seven Hong Kong-based artists for this project, providing approximately 42 gallons (150 liters) of Air-Ink in graffiti cans.
These worked well and were used in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district for street art activation to campaign against air pollution.
Street artist Buff Monster created a beautiful black-and-white drawing on a Manhattan sidewalk titled “This art is painted with air pollution.”
Anirudh’s innovation also gained recognition from Shah Rukh Khan, an Indian actor, film producer and television personality. Referred to in the media as the “King of Bollywood” and “King Khan”, he has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films. Khan pledged to use Air-Ink for his brand promotions.
This included 4 handmade posters of Khan posted across New Delhi and Mumbai advertising the launch of Sharma’s TED-Talks in India “Painted with Pollution.” With corporate and government partnerships, Graviky hopes to install 1,000 capture units in every constituency.
In 2019, Graviky Labs proudly made this post on their website: “(422 billion gallons (1.6 trillion liters) of air cleaned so far.”