Contender 5: Scrub CO2 out of the air and pump it underground.
University of Calgary researchers are attempting
to scrub carbon dioxide out of thin air,
using new technology that could help Alberta's oil
and gas sector and other industries
reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
In the first large-scale experiment of its kind,
the researchers have built a six-metre-high tower
on the U of C campus that's designed to chemically capture
carbon dioxide directly out of "free" or ambient air.
Research team leader David Keith says if the technology works
at a reasonable cost, it could lead to industrial-sized facilities
in Alberta and elsewhere in the world that scrub CO2
out of the air and pump it underground.
The big advantage of direct air-CO2 capture technology
"is that you can effectively capture CO2 from any part
of the world economy with equal ease,
because CO2 is well mixed in the air," he says.
Keith is an internationally recognized expert
on carbon dioxide capture and storage,
who was recruited last year by the U of C's Institute
for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy
from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
The tower is equipped with a chemical scrubber
that removes CO2 from Calgary's air
using a spray of sodium hydroxide solution.
The chemistry employed in the experiment is very similar to
that used in the pulp and paper industry, and
the technique has worked on a much smaller scale
in the laboratory, Keith says.
Based on the physics and chemical engineering involved,
"there's no question it is possible to do it.
The question is: Can we do it at a reasonable cost?"
Other scientists think the technology is worth pursuing.
University of Calgary research