Pulling carbon dioxide straight from the air? It may sound like science fiction, but these direct air capture devices are in the works and even operating in some countries.
These mechanical trees are meant to compensate for human C02 emissions from burning fossil fuels. Like real trees, the mechanical trees suck carbon dioxide from the air. However, they can do it faster and store the C02, removing it permanently from the atmosphere. The “leaves,” or disks, of the mechanical tree are 1000 times more capable of pulling in carbon dioxide than real leaves.
Standing 30 feet tall with 150 disks, the mechanical trees developed by an ASU professor (Klaus Lackner) and a Dublin-based company (Silicon Kingdom Holdings) are considered passive technology requiring no energy to capture the C02. Instead, it relies on wind naturally delivering C02 to the device. Energy is only required to extend and retract the device in addition to processing the C02. However, even then, cleaner energy sources like wind or solar could be used to power the mechanical trees.
The air is drawn into the mechanical tree and the C02 binds to a filter. Once the filter is fully saturated, the device closes, heats the C02 to release for collection, and then the C02 can be safely stored or used for food, beverages, agriculture, manufacturing, and other commercial uses.
The goal of the company is to eventually build large-scale mechanical tree farms and mass-produce the devices to create the mechanical tree farms all over the world. What do you think of this technology? For as long as we can all remember, real trees have been thought of as the clear answer to combating rising C02 levels. Can these mechanical trees be a part of the solution?
What are the benefits? What are the costs? We want to hear from you!
Join the conversation below and tell us your thoughts.
Want to read more about the mechanical tree featured in the podcast? Click here.