Sorry, no results matched your search. Please try again!
CO2 Emissions Reversal Tech: Is This a Realistic Solution?
Nov. 18, 2021
CO2 Emissions Reversal Tech: Is This a Realistic Solution?

CO2 Emissions Reversal Tech: Is This a Realistic Solution?

The concept of DAC (Direct Air Capture) as a method of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air is nothing new. But the hardware doing so is making significant advancements.

That’s not to say that it’s an altogether solution to the problem of greenhouse gases, but it’s certainly a start, and a fascinating experiment if nothing else.

Out of one million air particles, 412 are currently made up of carbon dioxide—a number roughly 30% higher than is it was before humans started burning fossil fuels.

So to filter that relatively small ratio out of the bulk, quite a lot of air needs to pass through a special filtration system. This happens by way of enormous fans. Not only that, the filters need to be heated in order to work. So all of that energy needs to come from somewhere, and unless it’s generated from emissions-free sources, the whole effort fails. As a result, the placement of these facilities is key.

The Largest DAC Facility Counteracts 870 Cars’ CO2

There are currently 19 DAC facilities, many of them operated by Switzerland’s Climeworks. Orca, the largest of these facilities, only removes 870 cars worth of annual carbon dioxide. That’s it. Although 4,000 tons of CO2 sounds like a lot, it isn’t—certainly not enough on its own to justify building and operating the facility.

But this facility is more like a blueprint for larger scale versions than a proposed solution itself. Juggernauts like Microsoft and Shopify have pledged their support, and Orca has plans to expand their capacity a hundredfold by 2027.

Iceland’s unique geothermal capabilities made it the ideal spot to build Orca. But most other sites worldwide don’t have this advantage. There are rival companies in the States and Scotland who are in the works of making or expanding their own facilities, but so far, Orca is still the largest and best.

Other CCUS Efforts

DAC is part of a group of technologies referred to as CCUS (carbon capture, utilization and storage). There are many other ideas and technologies attempting to solve the global warming issues, but none receiving as much support as DAC. Some of which attempt to capture and process CO2 as its being emitted, a band-aid solution that doesn’t solve the root of the problem—a reliance on fossil fuels.

The Price of Straining Out CO2

DAC is by no means cheap. It can cost up to $1000 per ton of carbon dioxide depending on the facility. Although the technology is still young, it’s not a logical or viable solution at this point. A much better option is decreasing dependency on fossil fuels and increasing the number of green-energy-fueled vehicles, power plants, and factories.

From a financial standpoint, carbon pricing, a policy that charges fossil fuel users for their emissions, is much more economical and more effective.

Eliminating Re-Emissions is Key

That’s not to say that the technology won’t progress to a point where it’s viable though. Zero-emissions facilities that run cheaper are in the works for the future. Orca is currently at less than 10% re-emissions, which is reasonable, but doesn’t yet hit its mark.

The Need to Decarbonize Remains Top Priority

Despite new technologies to filter out greenhouse gas, the real issue is still to get off of fossil fuel dependency. Band-aid solutions will likely never be enough to balance out the effects of ongoing global fossil fuel use. It’s important for supporters of these CO2 reducing technologies to make that distinction.

In short, DAC facilities and other technologies are certainly a positive step, but they can only make a real impact in accordance with other measures, such as the reduction of emissions and the increasing use of green energy.