U.S. thinks of new ways to remove carbon dioxide from air

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Carbon dioxide is something that will always be in one’s surroundings, and it’s something that humans cannot simply completely get rid of. However, in recent years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has drastically increased. 

According to climate.gov, “carbon dioxide concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few hundred years.”

Removing carbon dioxide from the air can come in many different forms. One way to remove it is through natural ways such as plants.

“Plants go through the process of photosynthesis. They’re taking in carbon dioxide, along with sunlight, mixing it together and making the organic structures which are the plants. I think in this discussion, what tends to happen is people think ‘well if I just plant a forest worth of trees, it’ll offset my carbon footprint’. The problem with that, though, is plants are uptaking carbon while they’re growing, but as soon as they die, that gets rereleased,” said environmental science teacher Joseph Rogalski. “So, if you’re cutting down or burning down a forest per say or harvesting crops, that carbon is going right back into the atmosphere, so the only real way that plants can be a carbon sink would be a long root structure.”

The amount of carbon dioxide in the air is no new concept to America. There have been ideas set of how to capture carbon in the atmosphere since the 1960’s, and those were added to the data.

“[The United States] has known about this for decades. You know, there’s memos and stuff like that from back in the 60’s, whether is from an oil company or whatever. I think that like any other concern, it’s something that’s in the future. Not only that but it was a maybe, like this might be the case, our data shows that this will probably happen, but what’s ultimately going to happen? We don’t know,” Rogalski said.

Recently, MIT engineers have been developing new ways to capture carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere.

According to forbes.com, “A pair of MIT engineers just created a new way to efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the air. The system can be developed commercially at low cost and has a myriad of potential applications. This approach uses a unique battery that can absorb carbon dioxide while it is charging up and release pure carbon dioxide when the battery is discharged. The batteries could be used dually on power plant exhausts, where one battery is charging while the other discharging, allowing for continuous capture of carbon dioxide. That gas can then be compressed and injected underground, called carbon capture and storage. A growing method for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is to pressurize it and inject it into depleted geologic formations. These geologic formations are commonly depleted oil and gas fields where porous rock has the ability to absorb significant volumes. Alternatively, the gas could be used for industrial applications requiring carbon dioxide.”

There are many possible ways to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and removing carbon dioxide would help send the United States in the right direction.