Considering the number of annual deaths caused by pollution, it not only makes sense to cut emissions but to also improve air quality. All over the world, groups are working to make the atmosphere as breathable as possible. Bogota is erecting vertical gardens while China is manufacturing air-purifying bicycles. Not to be outdone, Iceland has set up the world’s first negative emissions power plant.
Climate startup Climeworks refitted a geothermal plant in Iceland to remove carbon dioxide from the air while also generating power for thousands of homes. This carbon dioxide is safely embedded in rock, where it will remain for millions of years.
The storage process, called carbon capture and storage, is keeping temperatures from rising to extreme levels. The facility is projected to remove 50 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually. It isn’t much — but it’s something! The procedure is also fairly straightforward.
Climeworks uses… [the] plant’s waste heat to run their own carbon capture tech, pulling carbon dioxide directly out of the air and feeding it into the existing Carbfix infrastructure, which deposits it in underground basalt. There, the carbon dioxide forms crystals within two years, and remains stable underground for millennia.
Limited to information from my high school physics class, I hardly knew trapping CO2 was possible. Either way, we should be over the moon to have chemical engineers.
Due to the detrimental effects of excessive carbon emissions, researchers are scrambling to produce cleaner energy alternatives. Prototypes of algae-powered wooden motorcycles are making an appearance in the hopes of perfecting eco-vehicles. The entire state of Florida is even attempting to power its homes with waste procured by Hurricane Irma. Now tackling the fashion industry, which turns out nearly 14 million tons of waste per annum, a Swedish power plant is burning discarded H&M products to produce fuel.
“For us it’s a burnable material,” said Jens Neren, head of fuel supplies at Malarenergi AB, which owns and operates the plant in Vasteras… “Our goal is to use only renewable and recycled fuels.”
In this year alone, the plant has burned 15 tons of H&M clothing unsafe for wearing. The incinerated waste, along with 400,000 tons of trash power 150,000 homes.
“It is our legal obligation to make sure that clothes that contain mold or do not comply with our strict restriction on chemicals are destroyed,” [said H&M head of communications Johanna] Dahl…“H&M does not burn any clothes that are safe to use.”
Trends may be exciting, but are equally as damaging, especially when they come to pass.
The rapidly increasing climate problem has many depending on carbon calculators and cooling white paint. While quick solutions beget temporary relief, temperatures continue to rise. Instead of working against fossil fuels, startup Net Power is attempting to work with it. The energy group is running a traditional factory that produces zero-emissions.
There are only 17 large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants in operation today, and, annually, they stop less than 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. That’s less than 0.01% of the 40 billion metric tons we emit each year.
Despite the technique’s obvious success, it still lacks the financial backing it needs. So far, only two CCS fossil fuel plants are up and running in Canada and the United States. To offset its own carbon byproducts, Net Power is teaming up with various companies that benefit from CO2.
Net Power will also have customers for the carbon dioxide it captures: oil companies looking for enhanced oil recovery. To get the fossil fuel out of the ground, oil companies pump water into the fields to push out the oil.
Net Power’s pilot plant hardly surpasses the size of a football stadium, but will power up to 40,000 homes. Talk about tiny dynamite!