A new way to tackle planet-heating CO2

How can you capture carbon? We know that forests and oceans act as carbon sinks. Can we employ mechanisms to capture carbon dioxide so that the carbon emissions can be prevented? Enter Carbon capture and storage (CCS).

A technology employed to sequester carbon dioxide, CCS prevents the release of CO2 post the conventional power generation and industrial production processes.

Here, the CO2 is injected in suitable underground storage reservoirs. The capture technology works by separating CO2 emissions from the process and the compressed COZ gets transported through pipelines or gets shipped to a geological storage location where it is then injected.

One may wonder where these geological storage locations are situated at. Well, they are the abandoned oil and gas fields, deep saline formations, and unmineable coal seams. This technology enables the use of fossil fuels whilst ensuring the CO2 emissions are also significantly reduced.

Now, scientists have found a new way to sequester carbon. The idea is to turn it into sodium bicarbonate and store it in oceans.

According to a research paper published in the journal ‘Science Advances’ recently, the new technique is found to be more efficient than the current carbon capture technology, in fact, three times more efficient. It could be a new step in addressing the climate crisis by removing carbon from the air.

The study focusses on direct air capture. Even with the conventional carbon-capturing mechanism, only relatively small amounts of carbon can be captured. It makes the whole process challenging and expensive. That’s where the new study holds promise. It follows the direct air capture method but the research team used copper to modify the absorbent material. As such, the absorbent can remove CO2 from the atmosphere at ultra-dilute concentrations. The usage of copper helps increase the capacity of the absorbent to two to three times.

Even the material can be produced with ease and is cheap. Thus the cost incurred in direct air capture can be reduced. After the carbon dioxide is captured, it is turned into sodium bicarbonate or baking soda Sea water is used for this and then the sodium bicarbonate is released into the ocean in small concentrations.

There is, however, the challenge of disposing of tonnes of sodium bicarbonate in the ocean as it could amount to “dumping”.

The negative impacts on the ocean cannot be dismissed. Scientists are also of the opinion that such carbon capture technologies may distract us from the core target of reducing the burning of fossil fuels and instead give us a licence to continue being large-scale polluters.

Picture Credit : Google