MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from air

The process could work on the gas at any concentrations, from power plant emissions to open air

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A flow of air or flue gas (blue) containing carbon dioxide (red) enters the system from the left. As it passes between the thin battery electrode plates, carbon dioxide attaches to the charged plates while the cleaned airstream passes on through and exits at right. Credit: Sahag Voskian and T. Alan Hatton

A flow of air or flue gas (blue) containing carbon dioxide (red) enters the system from the left. As it passes between the thin battery electrode plates, carbon dioxide attaches to the charged plates while the cleaned airstream passes on through and exits at right. Credit: Sahag Voskian and T. Alan Hatton

A new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air could provide a significant tool in the battle against climate change. The new system can work on the gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.

Most methods of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of gas require higher concentrations, such as those found in the flue emissions from fossil fuel-based power plants. A few variations have been developed that can work with the low concentrations found in air, but the new method is significantly less energy-intensive and expensive, the researchers say.

The technique, based on passing air through a stack of charged electrochemical plates, is described in a new paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, by MIT postdoc Sahag Voskian, who developed the work during his PhD, and T. Alan Hatton, the Ralph Landau Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The device is essentially a large, specialized battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air (or other gas stream) passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged. In operation, the device would simply alternate between charging and discharging, with fresh air or feed gas being blown through the system during the charging cycle, and then the pure, concentrated carbon dioxide being blown out during the discharging.

As the battery charges, an electrochemical reaction takes place at the surface of each of a stack of electrodes. These are coated with a compound called polyanthraquinone, which is composited with carbon nanotubes. The electrodes have a natural affinity for carbon dioxide and readily react with its molecules in the airstream or feed gas, even when it is present at very low concentrations. The reverse reaction takes place when the battery is discharged — during which the device can provide part of the power needed for the whole system — and in the process ejects a stream of pure carbon dioxide. The whole system operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.

“The greatest advantage of this technology over most other carbon capture or carbon absorbing technologies is the binary nature of the adsorbent’s affinity to carbon dioxide,” explains Voskian. In other words, the electrode material, by its nature, “has either a high affinity or no affinity whatsoever,” depending on the battery’s state of charging or discharging. Other reactions used for carbon capture require intermediate chemical processing steps or the input of significant energy such as heat, or pressure differences.

“This binary affinity allows capture of carbon dioxide from any concentration, including 400 parts per million, and allows its release into any carrier stream, including 100 percent CO2,” Voskian says. That is, as any gas flows through the stack of these flat electrochemical cells, during the release step the captured carbon dioxide will be carried along with it. For example, if the desired end-product is pure carbon dioxide to be used in the carbonation of beverages, then a stream of the pure gas can be blown through the plates. The captured gas is then released from the plates and joins the stream.

In some soft-drink bottling plants, fossil fuel is burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to give the drinks their fizz. Similarly, some farmers burn natural gas to produce carbon dioxide to feed their plants in greenhouses. The new system could eliminate that need for fossil fuels in these applications, and in the process actually be taking the greenhouse gas right out of the air, Voskian says. Alternatively, the pure carbon dioxide stream could be compressed and injected underground for long-term disposal, or even made into fuel through a series of chemical and electrochemical processes.

The process this system uses for capturing and releasing carbon dioxide “is revolutionary” he says. “All of this is at ambient conditions — there’s no need for thermal, pressure, or chemical input. It’s just these very thin sheets, with both surfaces active, that can be stacked in a box and connected to a source of electricity.”

“In my laboratories, we have been striving to develop new technologies to tackle a range of environmental issues that avoid the need for thermal energy sources, changes in system pressure, or addition of chemicals to complete the separation and release cycles,” Hatton says. “This carbon dioxide capture technology is a clear demonstration of the power of electrochemical approaches that require only small swings in voltage to drive the separations.”

In a working plant — for example, in a power plant where exhaust gas is being produced continuously — two sets of such stacks of the electrochemical cells could be set up side by side to operate in parallel, with flue gas being directed first at one set for carbon capture, then diverted to the second set while the first set goes into its discharge cycle. By alternating back and forth, the system could always be both capturing and discharging the gas. In the lab, the team has proven the system can withstand at least 7,000 charging-discharging cycles, with a 30 percent loss in efficiency over that time. The researchers estimate that they can readily improve that to 20,000 to 50,000 cycles.

The electrodes themselves can be manufactured by standard chemical processing methods. While today this is done in a laboratory setting, it can be adapted so that ultimately they could be made in large quantities through a roll-to-roll manufacturing process similar to a newspaper printing press, Voskian says. “We have developed very cost-effective techniques,” he says, estimating that it could be produced for something like tens of dollars per square meter of electrode.

Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system is quite energy efficient, using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured, consistently. Other existing methods have energy consumption which vary between 1 to 10 gigajoules per ton, depending on the inlet carbon dioxide concentration, Voskian says.

The researchers have set up a company called Verdox to commercialize the process, and hope to develop a pilot-scale plant within the next few years, he says. And the system is very easy to scale up, he says: “If you want more capacity, you just need to make more electrodes.”

###

Written by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

Related links

Paper: “Faradaic Electro-Swing Reactive Adsorption for CO2 Capture.”

https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2019/ee/c9ee02412c#!divAbstract

New type of electrolyte could enhance supercapacitor performance

http://news.mit.edu/2019/new-electrolyte-supercapacitor-0812

Removing carbon dioxide from power plant exhaust

http://news.mit.edu/2019/removing-co2-from-power-plant-exhaust-0729

Turning emissions into fuel

http://news.mit.edu/2017/turning-emissions-into-fuel-1128

MIT researchers develop new way to clear pollutants from water

http://news.mit.edu/2017/electrochemical-clear-pollutants-water-0510

Getting the carbon out of emissions

http://news.mit.edu/2013/getting-the-carbon-out-of-emissions-0625

From EurekAlert!

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130 thoughts on “MIT engineers develop a new way to remove carbon dioxide from air

  1. The fact that it is extremely difficult to remove CO2 from air at low concentrations like 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere, suggests that Nature is indicating to us, “You really don’t need to be doing this, it would be better to spend your efforts reducing real pollution”. This is supported by the fact that at 200 ppm CO2 plants starve to death and plants really like levels more like 1200 ppm. The plants are just begging for more of the stuff.

    • The Law Of Unintended Consequences is lurking in the weeds on this one. These Government funded Climate sophists are going to be the death of us.

      On the other hand, since their real concern is overpopulation and not Global Warming this might just be their most brilliant plan.

      • There will be people who think CO2 is pollution who will now say ‘We won’t stop until we sequester every last molecule of CO2’ and then lack of ‘carbon’ in the atmosphere will be our downfall. I think we should aim to start limiting CO2 when it doubles from preindustrial times to 560 ppmv. And stabilize it at that level until we really understand the optimum level that we should have. Theoretically, that only leads to less than 1 degree of warming, which becomes a nice buffer from natural variation cooling events. The greatest threat to civilization is long term cooling events, not a beneficial rise of a few degrees C from the preindustrial Little Ice Age. #560orbust.org

        • Carbon sequestration is like a medical doctor gleefully announcing that he has figured out a way to keep Karen Carpenter from eating so much food!

          • Yes James Clarke,
            It is just madness …
            The atmosphere is NOT an isolated bio-system, it is part of the structural and biological global system of this beautiful planet.
            If you ‘decarbonize’ the atmosphere then the CO2 partial pressure differential with the oceans/seas/lakes/etc. would increase, and CO2 would vent from them to reestablish an atmospheric equilibrium!
            If at the current oceanic SST (sea surface temperature) and global atmospheric temperatures, the atmospheric CO2 level must be 410ppm, then that is where it will be.
            NO AMOUNT of CO2 sequestration will prevent it.

          • Except we were allegedly at 280 ppm not that long ago, with the same SST and atmospheric temperatures. And we allegedly dropped below 200 ppm during the last interglacial; dangerously close to starving plants and a real mass extinction event.

            We humans are also part of the Earth’s biological system and there is no doubt in my mind that we have restored more CO2 to that system with our burning of fossil fuels. I agree that there is a a give and take with the oceans depending upon temperatures, but I do not agree that the current concentration of CO2 would be just as it is now if we never harnessed fire.

            We are restoring much-needed CO2 to the atmosphere just in the nick of geological time to save the Earth’s biosphere. George Carlin joked that perhaps the whole purpose of humanity was to give the Earth plastic. He wasn’t far off. In a very real and scientific sense, our ICE’s are not destroying the biosphere; they are saving it!

    • I don’t see this will be come much more than a better method for CO2 concentration. As such it is an improvement in creating CO2 for industrial and commercial purposes. Whether anybody wants to attach this to the exhaust stack of a power plant has yet to be discussed, but that would be a better source than clean air.
      What wasn’t discussed was:
      What sort of charge/discharge cycle is possible? How long is 7000 cycles?
      How quickly this device becomes saturated with CO2?
      How concentrations affect this saturation rate?
      How the saturation effects the device (does it clog or merely stop accumulating CO2 and allows bypass)?

      This is merely an new application of technology that will have some beneficial energy savings. It is not “free” energy nor “free” concentration of industrial chemicals.
      If the researchers had announced that they had discovered a new process for concentrating, ammonia (or something else mundane) it wouldn’t even make the news. But, because CO2 is topical it makes the press.

    • I agree Nicholas.

      The reality is that atmospheric CO2 is not too high – in fact, increased atmospheric CO2 is hugely beneficial for humanity and the environment, since it will cause major increases in plant and crop yields, reduced desertification and possibly some minor, beneficial global warming.

      Furthermore, atmospheric CO2 is dangerously low for the long-term survival of terrestrial life on Earth, which will probably cease due to CO2 starvation.

      Regards, Allan

      References:
      “(Plant) Food for Thought”
      by Allan MacRae, 2009 and 2014
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/01/30/co2-temperatures-and-ice-ages/#comment-70691
      http://icecap.us/index.php/go/new-and-cool/plant_food_for_thought2/

      “Should We Celebrate Carbon Dioxide?”
      by Patrick Moore, October 15, 2015
      https://www.thegwpf.org/patrick-moore-should-we-celebrate-carbon-dioxide/
      _________________________________________

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/05/01/the-economist-adopts-teslas-ludicrous-mode/#comment-2693195

      CO2 is inexorably being sequestered in carbonate rocks since the dawn of life on Earth, and this is pretty much a one-way street. The very slow geologic processes that return some of that CO2 into the atmospheric via volcanic action are much slower than the processes that sequester CO2, so atmospheric CO2 will decline to below 150 ppm during one of the next ice ages, which occur every 100,000 years – the blink of an eye in geologic time.

      That will be the extinction event for ~all complex terrestrial life, which relies primarily on photosynthesis of C3 plants to survive.

      There are a few C4 and CAM (photosynthetic pathway) food plants, such as corn and sugar cane, but I doubt that terrestrial life can survive on Sugar Frosted Flakes, notwithstanding the rumour that “They’re Great!”

    • Neat, but it is still insane efficiency and energy wise.

      If 1055 J = 1BTU 1 GJ(elec) ~ 1 MMBTU (elec)
      1 ton of CO2 results from about 6.5 MMBTU (thermal) of coal burning

      So you would trade a huge slice of electricity produced from coal burning. Of course it is better with natural gas but reality still sucks …

      Kind of another science advertising scam, dialing for academic support $$$$$$$$$$.

    • Yes, CO2 is plant food plain and simple. There has not been a demonstrable situation where CO2 causes any unwanted warming. The left can only make assertions, but no proof. You must not be allowed to trash the economy and our freedoms based on assertions.

    • “Nature is indicating”.
      Nature never indicat anything, but is it a smart thing to use 277KWh of electric energy per ton, when plant do it for free. Converting threes to charcoal yield about 25% poor carbon while also supplying heat an gas that can burn.
      – Meny types of threes would have a yield of 15 m3 on a hectar per year.
      – 1 km2 or 100 hectare would yield 1500 m3 of wood or about 1000 ton dry weight
      – The charcoal would be about 25% or 250 ton and other stuff that can be used

      250 ton of charcoal are more or less the same as 1000 ton of CO2. The charcoal to not need any compressing to be stored. Just crush and mix it into earth. It will stay their for a very long time.
      That would save 277 KWh * 1000 or 277 MWh per year from 100 hectar parcel of land.

      I now that they are making a lot of low grade charcoal in California at the moment.
      At a cost of 20¢ KWh that is the same as 200$ saved for every ton of charcoal that in the end is mixed into hte earth when you compare it to the new metode described in this article.

  2. I hereby predict these MIT engineers won’t be winning any popularity contests, let alone Nobels. Their innovation will make them about as welcome as a half-caste in the antebellum South.

    Those of us who identify as chlorophile (pro-green) will lament the thought of a less verdant planet.

    Those opposite will come down like a ton of bricks on top of anyone who threatens their 400 excuses per million to achieve the beautiful dream of shutting down the industrial metabolism of 21st-century civilization.

  3. The reverse reaction takes place when the battery is discharged — during which the device can provide part of the power needed for the whole system“. Let’s say that someone with lots of greenhouses bought this system to replace their gas-driven CO2-producing system. The gas that had been used to produce CO2 could now be used to produce the rest of the energy needed for the new system. So, instead of using gas directly to produce CO2, they could use gas indirectly to produce CO2, and they would have spent a no-doubt massive amount of money on a much harder to maintain system in order to make the change. That’s progress?

    • It may not make business sense to convert an existing operating system to this new system.
      Do greenhouse operators pump the exhaust from methane powered electrical generators directly into the green houses without processing it first? Or, do they simply vent methane burners into the spaces?
      Seems like a whole slew of unwanted combustion byproducts would be introduced in that method.
      Might it not be better to run the exhaust through this electronic scrubber first and collect only the CO2 for the green house?

      • No, methane is very clean gas. If it wasn’t, pilot lights would go out and houses would blowup due to contaminants. The exhaust is carbon dioxide and water vapor. So non-toxic that older homes do not have a venting system for their stove, and are not required to upgrade. Greenhouses in colder climates require heating. The consumption of oxygen, poisonous to plants, and the addition of carbon dioxide increases productivity. A win win win.

  4. hang on 1 joule = 1 watt.second.

    10GJ=2.778 MWh for one ton of CO2. With typical US retail price of about 10cent/kWh, that’s 0.3 kilobucks ($300) per ton, just for the wasted energy , without counting the cost of building installing and running the boondongle.

    I thought ecology was all about efficiency, less waste and a sustainable future , not squandering the little resources we have left.

    • This device covers the CC part of CCS.
      The S part though? Let’s just ignore that in the energy cost to do CCS seems to be the attitude when trying to justify CCS.

      I love the way the CCS promoters simply assume that injecting (sequestering) hundreds megatons of CO2 (whether its in gas phase or a supercritical liquid) every year, year after year, decade after decade will be trivial and the costs negligible compared to the CC part.

      It’s that the CC part is the fun, sexy physical chemistry part. But the disposal? The sequestration, that’s like going to dump. Taking out the trash. No fun.

      Remember we’re talking about at least a billion tons of CO2 a year just in the US. That’s just to begin to approach the almost 2Gigatons of CO2 the US reports as its current annual emissions due to electrical generation to get to carbon neutral the green idiots want as a goal.

    • Comprehension is hard.

      This device uses 1GJ as clearly stated in the article.

      Why would a coal/gas fired plant be paying retail prices to scrub their own flue gas?

    • Bingo!
      “Compared to other existing carbon capture technologies, this system is quite energy efficient, using about one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured, consistently. ”
      Thanks for doing the math but that is only a small portion of the cost. Did they include the cost of operating a fan to move the air over the collection unit?
      Also the big elephant on the room is the energy used to compress the CO2 so it can be moved via a realistic size pipeline to be used elsewhere or sequestered at high pressure somewhere. Is the pipeline free and how about the fossil fuels required to build and operate it.
      They talk about batch recovery possibly with air so the product is not pure enough to be useful in most applications. Besides do we really want to sequester OXYGEN along with carbon?
      Since I personally got involved in re Engineering another poorly engineered cyclic CO 2 removal device, I could rant on for pages. We did in the end capture CO2 but the economics does not work.
      The only possible use could be next to an oil field to get more oil out of an old field with CO2 injection and make $$$ selling black gold.
      We are not spending our government research dollars wisely.

      • The trick would be to redefine CO2 after it’s been captured in order to frame it as sustainable, then simply release it back into the atmosphere in the name of climate progress. The progressive left is expert at that type of shenanigans; for example, their framing of the CO2 emitted from wood-pellet-fired European coal plants as sustainable; same power generated as coal, more CO2 released than coal, but zero CO2 emitted per climate policy.

      • “The only possible use could be next to an oil field to get more oil out of an old field with CO2 injection and make $$$ selling black gold.”

        Bingo, and at taxpayer expense. Liquid carbon dioxide washes heavier oils from the rock in the same way dry cleaners can wash clothes without water. It not only makes old wells more productive, it pressurizes the oil making pumping more efficient. The carbon dioxide is removed from the oil and vented to the atmosphere along methane. The entire program of carbon capture in oil wells is a fraud.

  5. Imagine what Greta and XR could do with that, if it actually works as described.
    …How about pulling enough CO2 out of the air to stop plant growth.
    Mao and Pol Pot would be so proud.

    • Only on WUWT does an interesting scientific development get a response like that.

      Well done. You win the 2019 Crackpot Prize. There was some pretty stiff competition too, congrats.

      • Loydo,

        Please say what you think is “interesting” about this “scientific development”.
        I really do want to know.

        Incidentally, the “development” is technological and not “scientific”. At present the technology has no known economic or other benefits.

        Richard

          • Loydo,

            OK. I read that nonsense from Crispin which was immediately refuted by Patrick MJD who began his rebuttal saying,
            “No, still does not compute. Many many many CO2 capture “systems” have been proposed and some tested. None even meet the break-even point of energy in and something out. There is always loss, using MORE energy in the process.”
            And previously in this thread Patrick MJD had pointed out that the Second Law of TD makes this problem inevitable.

            Furthermore, as mikewaite emphasises, in this thread MAX observed that plants do the same as this ‘new development’ at no cost and often with economic benefit.

            So, Loydo, I repeat my question to you.
            Please say what you think is “interesting” about this “scientific development”.

            Richard

      • Only Loydo would think wasting time & money on science & technology to remove the second most important gas from the atmosphere is a good idea.
        Without Carbon Dioxide there are no Plants & creatures that require it and without them there is no Oxygen being produced.
        But of course he has Climate Change phobia.

        • It’s a lot easier to kill plants by spraying them with a herbicide or ripping them out of the ground by their roots or simply by cutting them down.

      • “A new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air could provide a significant tool in the battle against climate change.”

        Stopped reading after the opening sentence which is a total unproven fabrication.

      • “Only on WUWT does an interesting scientific development get a response like that.”

        it’s like watching pavlov’s dogs. except dumber. they read the word C02 and react with
        standard group think. They hear the word model and do the same thing.

        not the WUWT of old

        • Steven Mosher,

          No, it is more like watching you, i.e. someone who behaves like Pavlov’s dogs except dumber because you never think but respond with a conditioned response of meaningless carping.

          Richard

        • How wrong will the models have to be (and for how long) before you abandon the CO2 religion Steven?

      • @Lyodo, the device appears smart and interesting. What people here are complaining about, is the intended usage. If they had promoted this great device for submarines, for example, it would make a lot more sense. The device could maybe also be useful in long distance airplanes.

  6. Planting trees does the same job but no chance of a Nobel nomination in that, eh? Although Obama got nominated before he could do anything… so I guess its worth a punt.

    • Yes. over billions of years, nature has built a remarkably efficient system, for removing CO2 from the atmosphere at low concentrations. Not only does this system employ free sunlight as the energy source, it is also self-replicating, allowing easy scale-up on a massive continental scale.

      Add in all the ancillary benefits such as food, building materials, and aesthetic value, and one quickly realizes just how much further humans have to go before they can invent anything even remotely competitive. We probably never will. That’s the bit Loydo appears not to understand.

  7. This is getting back to admitting that the CO2 in the atmosphere is a major problem and as such it has to be removed.

    So unless this device is cheap enough to simply provide CO2 to those industries which need it,. then what is the point of depriving the plants of their food.

    This gets back to the urgent need to proving that CO2 is a good and badly needed gas, thus destroying the Green scam once and for all.

    MJE VK5ELL

    • Trees plant themselves.

      If they don’t know that CO2 is a major plant nutrient, they will probably plant the wrong kind of trees in the wrong places. So, do not let them plant trees.

    • Here’s something to think about.

      One ton of carbon burns releasing about 33 GJ of heat energy. Capturing all the CO2 in the form of a pure gas takes about 1 GJ using this system. It’s not C, it is CO2, but some of the energy could be used in combination with algae to free the oxygen and get the carbon back in combustible form.

      If farmers wanted to supply CO2 to plants at 2000 ppm they could process a fraction of the air passing over the plants to upgrade the concentration. 2000 ppm is only 0.2% so to achieve this only 1600 ppm has to be added. Energetically this definitely works to the advantage of the farmer who does not also require heat + CO2, and that is a large number of farmers.

      At present farmers sometimes heat greenhouses with combustion venting the exhaust directly into the greenhouse (though this is banned for tobacco due to issues with the product). If the heating is not also required the provision of the CO2 without such a huge energy input is a big plus.

      There are devices called CO2 adsorbers that work exactly as described: columns cycled and backwashed with air, but they require about 4 bars pressure. It is one way to get CO2-free air at a low cost. It also removes CO and water vapour. The adsorbent lasts far more than 50,000 cycles – like twice per minute for five years or 5 million cycles, but you get the idea.

      Cuba, which is a major source of industrial gasses globally, will be interested, for sure. Well done, MIT, and don’t overlook their liquid metal battery.

      • No, still does not compute. Many many many CO2 capture “systems” have been proposed and some tested. None even meet the break-even point of energy in and something out. There is always loss, using MORE energy in the process.

        We have already discovered the best way to use fossil fuels and that is to burn them. Use CH4 at the end point, ie, burn it as gas in the heater/stove. Pointless to burn it to make electricity and then to WASTE a lot of it sending it somewhere to then make heat.

        • There are flue gas extractor and CO2 removal systems that use amine scrubbing solutions as Crispin indicates. There could be several applications in which the approach is useful, for example, in the production of hydrogen via steam methane reforming.

          • “Scissor October 27, 2019 at 6:55 am

            There could be several applications in which the approach is useful, for example, in the production of hydrogen via steam methane reforming.”

            Still, consumes more energy than is available in the end product. Hydrogen production via steam methane reforming is HUGELY energy intensive as it stands today so defeats the object which is to REMOVE CO2 from the air.

  8. This invention would be very useful on a spacecraft or lunar base to remove carbon dioxide, separating it to keep the air fresh, or be used in a greenhouse to make food.
    Not necessary on earth since we have plants and plankton which require no energy, other than the sun for photosynthesis, to remove the carbon from the air.
    Only those who hate nature would suggest starving plant life of carbon dioxide. Without plants, animals die. Then we die. Then the earth become like Mars, lifeless.
    10% of the crust of the earth is lime stone, the bones of once living organisms, permanently sequestered carbon. For every ton of plankton in the ocean, 400 pounds of the Single cell organism is calcium carbonate which will fall to the bottom of the ocean when it dies. The average thickness of lime stone on the bottom of the ocean is 2000 feet. Carbon would remain sequestered until continental drift moves over it and heat and pressure will change it into oil and gas. Carbon dioxide is then recycled/re-released into the atmosphere by drilling, or naturally by a volcano. Now you know why Oil is called “fossil fuel”.
    By the way, the energy requirement to pressurize the exhaust of a power plant into a liquid to put in the ground is 1/5 of its power output.
    If you have 4 coal fired electrical power plants, you would need to spend $1 billion to make a fifth power plant devoting its entire output to compressing the gases from all 5. What a colossal waste of energy, for a temporary feel good solution to a problem that does not exist.

    • … and the oceans will replace the CO2 we remove due to the partial pressure difference we introduce by doing so.

    • For space application this will be investigated closely. CO2 scrubbing is a big issue in closed volumes (habitats). However larger colonization efforts will most likely merely cycle air flows through plant growing chambers for scrubbing.
      Nature has had a very long time to refine its recycling systems. We are scrambling to understand them well enough to duplicate them …poorly. Many of these high technology concepts were developed for space because we were trying to reproduce nature without its help, and there were no other choices. Solar electric cells are one such technology. Not intended for wide spread terrestrial application as they are far too costly, but they are still more practical that extension cords on satellites.

  9. The effect of CO2 on changing climate is unproven. All climate models purporting such have failed. Why are we wasting time and money on this? unless we are planning to terrascape Venus.

    • David S, well funded and well organised propaganda efforts is your answer. Unless we skeptics similarly unleash a massive and unrelenting propaganda war for sanity, we and our descendants are doomed to be needlessly impoverished.

  10. L.O.L. Lets break this down: During one cycle, it removes carbon dioxide even at current atmospheric concentrations (let’s call it the “daytime” cycle). In the other cycle it aspirates normally and releases carbon dioxide (called the “nighttime” cycle). If they make it solar powered, scientists have invented the low CO2 concentration removal device known as “The Plant.” Next they need to find a way to sequester it in liquid form within rocks. The liquid in the rocks could be called “petro-leum.”

    • Tim;
      LOL, it is far better to extract the carbohydrates (sugar) and the hydrocarbons (vegetable oil) directly from the plant invention (Maple sugar, Cane sugar, fruits, nuts, etc.) rather than sequester it underground. It might get dirty.
      Long-ago chemist figured out how to add water to hydrocarbons to make crude oil into carbohydrates. It was digestible and in some places (China) used as a filler in some food products. It tasted very very bad! And it spoiled.

  11. Scary. CO2 is an essential nutrient.
    I had the ability, as an anaethetist, to pull CO2 from a ventilated patient. Patients tolerated quite high levels. A meeting room full of people can exceed 1000 ppm.
    Pull too much CO2 out, and you kill the patient.
    Plants die with too little CO2. Pump in CO2 to over 1000 ppm, and plants grow more vigorously.

    If a really big CO2 extraction process was set up upwind from me, I would be getting away, as quickly as possible. In the wrong hands, it could kill.

  12. The US emits 5+ billion metric tons of CO2 per year. The world is 32+ billion tons per year. How much money will be wasted to capture that huge quantity per year and where are you going to safely store such massive amounts? The CO2 Endangerment finding should be reversed and this idiocy ended.

    • Todya It’s actually closer to 8Gt, with electrical generation accounting for about almost 2Gt of CO2. Pushing EVs to replace ICE vehicles in the transportation part of emissions will only increase the need for generation, which the Climate Scam sees as coming from wind mills and solar panels, lots of them.

      The world is also at around 36 Gt annual CO2 emissions with China and India’s growth rate more than double anyone else.

  13. I think for those greenhouse people who want some CO2 it would be cheaper to install a micro brewery. They are popping up everywhere and making some good money. Just think about that CO2 that bubbles out when you home brew. (great beer also)

      • Loydo,

        You say,
        “The increase in atmospheric CO2 is less than the total emissions of CO2 from human sources.”
        Yes, and it is also true that,
        “The increase in atmospheric CO2 is very much less than the total emissions of CO2 from ‘natural’ sources.”

        The human emission of CO2 is ~4% of the natural emission of CO2, and in each year the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is equivalent to ~2% of the total emission.

        “Your point is what?”

        Richard

  14. I have just invented another way to remove CO2 from the air, at any concentration.

    You dissolve it in water and use a mass spectrometer.

    Can I have a Nobel prize? Or a grant to continue my research?

  15. Nonsensical pseudo-tech in search of grants based on fake-science and propagated by fake-science journals.

    There no actual atmospheric data supporting the “CO2 drives T” meme, and actual physical data analysis (Earth’s atmosphere CO2 concentration and Earth’s global mean T at 2 meters altitude) tends to show the opposite.
    See the CO2 concentration – global T cross-correlation diagram presented by Prof. Murry Salby :
    https://youtu.be/5g9WGcW_Z58?t=1465

    Not only T seems to be a driver of CO2 concentration with a lag of some 10 months (see right part of the diagram),
    but if any assumption could be made with respect to CO2 as a driver of T variations, is that CO2 seems to act as a (weak) negative feedback with respect to T (with a lag of some 16 months, see left part of the diagram).

    The main conclusion is that the “CO2 increase induces T increase” assumption is not supported by data analysis of the real World and so, any subsequent theory trying to “explain” this assumption is wrong or at least incomplete.

    Furthermore, there no statistical evidence of a systematic warming trend since more than a century (see from 17:32 to 24:19 of a recent Salby’s presentation) :
    https://youtu.be/NtIgMftbUuw?t=1052

    So even at larger temporal scales, the “CO2 pseudo-science” do not stand up to data analysis even when those data has been made up since decades in order to support the CO2 fairy tail.

  16. For those genuinely interested in the eco systems we all rely on for our existence and well being, I have a much simpler process that does the job really well.
    I feed a squirrel.
    He in turn goes out and plants trees for me. mostly hazel, but the occasional oak has been known.
    The cost of this process is very modest and now the hazel are so prolific all around, it could be regarded as self sustaining and zero financial cost.

  17. The best way to end this absolute scam is to us tech to lower CO2.
    If we can get it to 350ppm and temperature still doesn’t play ball, that’s the end of it, completely and utterly.

    So any tech that can do this, will kill this scam dead in its tracks.

    The biggest thing for me that has come from all of this is, the fact you cant trust NOAA and NASA and all of those other scientific institutions. Science has gone backwards in the past 30 years, and education and liberal ideology imo are to blame.

    People like Myhre Mann and Schmidt are absolutely trashing science with their ideologies. Myhre actually called a Cliff Mass blog on the fires “violence”. Myhre obviously has significant mental problems, and her ideology is probably exacerbating her mental issues

  18. To add: This is why such tech to remove CO2 is not widely and massively funded.
    CO2 going down is bad for the renewables scam, the political scam, the financial scam.

    Tech that can reduce CO2 levels should get all of the R&R funding, yet… the research are gets buttons compared to the money in windmills.

    They don’t want CO2 lowered. That would be the end of the IPCC and the vast feeding frenzy going on in science

    • Oh, very good, Mark. That’s why government never solves any problems. If they did, they would have to pack it up and go home.

      And if there is no problem to solve, then government creates problems, real or imaginary, to solve.

      • “And if there is no problem to solve, then government creates problems, real or imaginary, to solve”.
        A more accurate description of socialist governments it would be hard to find, many a true word spoken in jest eh HR.

      • If no one is breaking the law, what justification would you have for expanding the police force? New laws are created, not because we need them, but to expand the ever-growing control structure that is needed to enslave the people. (This is one of the main topics of the author Ayn Rand; Atlas Shrugged) Impossible L aws are passed like the war on drugs, war on poverty, war on unacceptable social behavior… Soon people are escaping, so walls are built to hold them in. The country becomes a prison. The goal of the New World order is to make the entire planet a prison so that people would have nowhere to escape too.
        What is the punishment for crime when you already live in a prison? The answer is the government comes up with more efficient ways of killing people. Especially when resources are limited by the control structure. In short, 80% reduction in greenhouse gases equals an 80% reduction in the population. The climatology religion is a green doomsday cult.

  19. Ya know, this MIGHT be of interest to the Navy for use on submarines. They need to scrub the CO2 out of the air and they have an infinite sink to dump the captured CO2 into. Besides having a little extra battery power never hurts, and they have the power to run the process.

  20. LOL, why?

    How about STOP the pollution in ASIA and China and many other large scale pollution ground zeros? Have you seen the rivers in China? Have you seen the plastic in most rivers near large population centers?

    Have you seen the air pollution in many cities that are not even mentioned in the Global Warming scam? Greta T went to China RIGHT? NOPE She went to the USA and scolded Americans for breathing and repopulating or something……..

    But, but the USA/Western countries have to redistribute it’s wealth to poor countries or…….Blah, Blah, Blah…..

    Global warming science is a scam and has always been a scam.

  21. So – do we presume this technology will be deployed in the northern hemisphere? Where the OCO-2 satellite showed the enormous and widespread annual flux in CO2? And didn’t show up any really bad emitters that they were hoping to find? It showed that there was very little happening in the southern hemisphere.
    OCO-3 was launched in July and is being installed in the ISS apparently. NASA seems to expect that this will finally produce some baddies, because the resolution will be much finer, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet.
    (I measure CO2 levels coming off the western Pacific at 19°S. Periodically, not continually. There is the usual diurnal fluctuation between about 380 and 425 ppm. I haven’t seen any significant change in annual average values over the past 7 years.

  22. Sounds like a great way to purify air in closed systems like submarines, space craft and under ground habitations like bunkers. Or even reducing the CO2 in the supply air stream for combustion processes to boost efficiency.

  23. The premise that CO2 is an evil gas is still being put forth. Perhaps this system on an individual use basis could have benefits for that user, but how large a system would be needed to actually have an effect on the climate?

  24. Ok, fine but will the process really scale up to commercially viable size? Is a life cycle of 20,000 to 50.000 really possible (that’s quite a range by the way)?

    I have actual experience in modifying processes involved with CO2 removal in natural gas processing. The original piping was carbon steel and just couldn’t stand up to the (CO2) rich amine stream. The acidic solution (H2CO3) caused extensive corrosion problems which we eventually solved with stainless steel. I’ve worked on other acid gas streams (H2S and CO2 are collectively called “acid gases”) but I won’t get into that now.

    The combustion effluent from coal or natural gas power plants has a composition mainly composed of, surprise!, nitrogen. Well, yeah, as the atomsphere is roughly 79% nitrogen it will be the major constituent. As an example, the theoretical combustion of methane with air will result in one CO2, two H2O and 4.76 molecules of N2. In real life their is always a need for “excess air” to insure the fullest combustion of the methane possible. To much excess air results in additional N2 which need to be heated up too which is undesirable; you don’t want to heat up more non-reactant than necessary particularily in this casse when the size of the process is dependent on the amount of incoming effluent.

    Why is this important? All of the equipment in any process involving the combustion effluent must account for the entire volume of gas and the conditions of the gas; it’s hot and at essentially atmospheric pressure hence the volume of the gas is very large. The process mentioned above operates at “room temperature and atomspheric pressure”. The pressure is fine but the effluent needs to be cooled to some temperature that the process will, hopefully, operate reliably on a continuous basis. There are processes that will cool the effluent but what may end up being a problem is the H2O in the stream. Some of the water and CO2 will end up making H2CO3 and the potential for corrosion and all the process materials will have to be designed with this in mind. In a coal fired plant the possibility of H2S from the sulfur in the coal (plus other compounds such as mercury) adds another level of complexity to the process.

    Bottom line, the process should be scaled up to a pilot plant (WITHOUT public money financing) before anyone gets all excited about this miracle process which will “save the planet”.

    On the other hand, the use of the process as a CO2 scrubber for enclosed habitats is very intriguing. This technology may have real benefits in those applications and should be persued.

    • Good points. I don’t think this technology wouldn’t necessarily preclude operation at higher temperatures. In fact, I think some potential advantages are around its ability to desorb CO2 without use of heating, as in typical amine scrubbers.

      In natural gas reforming, issues of sulfur and other contaminants would not be a factor as they are removed to protect reforming catalysts up front. There are also specialized oxygen blown systems that get away from the N2 issue. Of course, air separation is expensive and in the end, the best economics should prevail.

      I have the same overall opinion that you have, i.e., there are potential real benefits and it’s worthy of development.

  25. For those of us old enough to remember, doesn’t this read a lot like the discovery of “Cold Fusion”? How’d that work out?

  26. I only have a couple of questions. how is removing something from our atmosphere that our plant life needs in order to survive, going to save the planet?? and save it from what exactly??? existence??

    MIT, I await your answers to those questions.

  27. You can not plant a tree, because it is already a tree, that would be transplanting it. Plant tree seeds, to make more trees.

    • Tree nurseries plant tree seeds, growing into trees, small trees, but trees nonetheless. You get these trees from the nursery, planting these trees. Ask any Canadian summer tree planter, they plant thousands of trees, DAILY, and get eaten by black flies, millions and millions of black flies.

  28. The process could work on the gas at any concentrations, from power plant emissions to open air

    Except that at low concentrations the second law of thermodynamics more or less runs the show. All irreversibilities involved make concentration from very dilute mixtures fairly work intensive and thus expensive.

  29. Sure! Let’s build and power enough of these “revolutionary” devices to process the entire atmosphere of the planet! Stephen Wright, the comedian, said it best: “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it…”

  30. So is the last step building a gas pipe to space so we can blow it out of the atmosphere? How is separating CO2 helping remove it from the atmosphere where there is no place to put it in large enough quantities to make any measurable difference?

  31. October has been a great month! We got TWO “inventions that will change everything!”

    Is this polyanthraquinone any good in a G&T?

    ‘the process ejects a stream of pure carbon dioxide.’

    M’kay. How are you going to capture it? What are you going to do with it? [Venting it to atmosphere would be the best option.]

  32. Sadly, the basic premise of all this pointless effort is false. Carbon dioxide is a precious, life-giving, beneficial trace gas without which terrestrial life would cease. The Sahara is greening. Forests are expanding. Earth is becoming greener, in the true sense. The prospect of the next glaciation is the real threat.

  33. Suppose this thing were put into service all over the world.

    In a few decades we’d all be singing:

    “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

    Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago…”

    • The geniuses at MIT and elsewhere are very useful for thinking up stuff, but the implementation needs to be mitigated by us normals. As a non-genius in that environment, I know that many, if not most, times they have trouble noticing that the real world is not the same as the one in their labs.

  34. If they could tweak the system around to where it could capture water vapor, then it would be useful as a quiet, non-warming dehumidifier.

  35. “…In some soft-drink bottling plants, fossil fuel is burned to generate the carbon dioxide needed to give the drinks their fizz…”

    Wait…so soft-drink bottling plants already have the technology to burn fossil fuels, capture the CO2, and inject it into soft-drinks?

    Why don’t we just use that technology? Problem solved.

    • It’s not only soft-drinks, pasteurised beers (largers and things like that), need be re-fizzed after treatment.

  36. So what these brilliant MIT science guys are saying is: We want another ice age to start and we want it now!!!

    Just want to make sure I understand, since the only thing between us and a prolonged wet cold spell, which will have an unfortunate impact on crops and food production is the fact that we’re living in a warm period. Are these silly but very earnest fellow aware than in the Elizabethan period, when women wore NINE petticoats under the forepart and overskirt just to keep warm, chicken eggs (well, ANY eggs, really) were worth nearly their weight in gold? And wool was a hot commodity, and velvet was dress de jure because both wool and velvet were warmer than linen shifts and shirts? I made one of those court dresses, fully authentic, including the hoop, bumroll and doublet, and it does keep you much warmer on a chilly day than shorts and a t-shirt.

    Really, I’d truly like to understand what has created this carbon phobia. I think these people, who expel carbon dioxide every time they exhale and speak, need some professional help with their problem. I really do.

    • I just wrote a similar comment and it is being reviewed?????

      You are one hundred percent correct.

      Brilliant science guys rarely know much about the real world we live in.

      I know, I have one in the family.

  37. In the UK last summer there was a shortage of CO2 for carbonated drinks because two reforming plants were down for maintenance (a planning error). I do not suppose the eco doomsters in the extinction movement even know that we deliberately produce CO2 by steam reforming hydrocarbons (n heptane) for the food and drinks industry – my MP certainly doesn’t he’s pushing for zero C emissions by 2050 or sooner now that he’s heard Greta preach. The crisis was averted by short term imports. This MIT invention if it’s not as big as the Empire State Building, (to provide the necessary interfacial area for such low concentrations as 400ppmv CO2) might be adapted as a stop gap but would need considerable additional equipment such gas boosters, compressors, HEs, liquefaction and storage plant etc. Solid CO2 was used extensively at one time for food preservation before domestic refrigerators became widely available – requiring lots of electrical energy of course. Little wonder that the Chinese are opening a new coal fired power station every five minutes; albeit along the silk road now.

    • I’m guessing the primary products are hydrogen and syngas and the CO2 formed is a byproduct. In any case, it’s pretty simple to make CO2.

      • Just mix some yeast in with some flour, eggs, salt and milk to make bread.

        There are many many people who won’t accept CO2 (Bad yeast! Bad bad yeast) makes the bubbles in bread and beer etc.

  38. removing carbon dioxide … a significant tool in the battle against climate change.

    I see what they did there.

  39. It is interesting that removing CO2 from the atmosphere would in the end bring about the very result global warming advocates warn us about. No wonder ideas like this are being pushed…because their predictions are not coming true. Talk about the proverbial finger on the scale.

  40. Great science. A seemingly efficient method to capture CO2 that is used in many applications. As far as AGW is concerned ….. it answers a concern for some people. Whether the concern is real or not is irrelevant. Cost isn’t either if you look at current money being thrown at AGW. “Captured CO2” can become a recycling meme for the AGW needy and a revenue stream for others. It effectively negates the fossil fuel hysteria and all the angst that goes along with it. Expect little to no reporting in the media and active denial of its’ effectiveness from the AGW crowd. My guess is Nitrogen is being groomed to be the next bogeyman.

    • Nitrogen the next bogeyman? It already is as was shown here at WUWT with the protests in Holland about the EU imposed limits of N2 in the soils and in farming.

      Why doesn’t the EU go the whole hog and ban civilisation, birth and farming?

  41. From the above seems that CO2 is the staff of life – anathema to me to refer to it as a pollutant. Greta has got to go back to school wash her mouth out with carbolic soap and learn a modicum of science.

  42. Not going to read the ~125 comments made thus far, so this might be repetitive. The problem with carbon capture has never been so much the extraction technique. To sequester CO2 underground, it must be dehydrated and then compressed to very high pressure before being piped somewhere “safe.” CO2 is very corrosive if there is any water present.

  43. Carbon sequestration is code for the starvation of plants.

    And people.

    But what would I know? I’m just a horticulturist.

  44. Think how much better we’ll be at removing CO2 from the air with 100 years of technological development. The time to address climate change (if ever) is 100 years from now when it (supposedly) becomes a problem. We may have warp drive by then. Who knows what magical technology 100 years of quantum computing and other advances might lead to. Addressing CO2 in the atmosphere now is like our great grandfathers addressing high speed transportation options in 1900. Had our progenitors desired to spend a trillion dollars in 1900 to help their great grandchildren address being able to travel at a greater rate of speed, they would have developed the most efficient buggy whip imaginable.

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