An Arizona State University (ASU) professor has developed unique carbon capture technology which is set to be deployed by an Ireland-based tech company.

The proprietary technology acts like a tree that is thousands of times more efficient at removing CO2 from the air.

Developed by Professor Klaus Lackner, Director of ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE), the “mechanical trees” allow the captured gas to be sequestered or sold for re-use in a variety of applications, such as synthetic fuels, enhanced oil recovery or in food, beverage and agriculture industries.

According to ASU, unlike other carbon capture technologies, this technology can remove CO2 from the atmosphere without the need to draw air through the system mechanically, using energy intensive devices.

Instead, the technology uses the wind to blow air through the system. This makes it a passive, relatively low-cost and scalable solution that is commercially viable.

If deployed at scale, the technology could lead to significant reductions in the levels of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere, helping to combat global warming.

Silicon Kingdom Holdings (SKH) holds the exclusive rights to the technology and comprises a group of leading individuals from business and science, including Lackner.

SKH plans to deploy clusters of column shaped devices. A cluster comprises 12 columns and can remove one metric ton of CO2 per day.

SKH will deploy the technology in a pilot CO2 farm targeting 100 metric tons per day of CO2. The technology will then be deployed to full scale CO2 farms in multiple locations, each capable of removing up to 3.8 million metric tons of CO2 annually.

“The situation has gotten to the point where we need to stop talking about it and start doing something about it,” said Lackner.

“CO2 is a waste product we produce every time we drive our cars or turn on the lights in our homes. Our device can recycle it, bringing it out of the atmosphere and either bury it or use it as an industrial gas.”

The “mechanical tree” is a novel geometry which is agnostic to the wind direction. Each one contains a stack of sorbent filled disks. When the tree-like column is fully extended and the disks spread apart, air flow makes contact with the surfaces and the CO₂ gets bound up.

During regeneration, the disks are lowered inside the bottom container. Inside the chamber, the CO2 is released from the sorbent. The released gas is then collected, purified, processed and put to other uses, while the disks are redeployed to capture more CO2.

Until now, technologies being developed to capture CO2 from the air have been constrained by the cost of capture and the ability to harvest the gas at scale.

SKH said its technology addresses both issues, bringing the cost of capture comfortably below $100 per metric ton at scale – the lowest in the industry – making it both commercial and impactful towards reducing global warming.

“Our goal is to accelerate the global climate effort set out in the Paris Agreement to contribute to reversing global carbon emissions in the next 10 to 15 years,” said Pól Ó Móráin, CEO of SKH.

“Our passive process is the evolution of carbon capture technology which has the ability to be both economically and technologically viable at scale in a reasonably short time frame.”

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