We believe it’s going to take more than just offsets to get us to our global climate goals — this is where new carbon removal technologies come in. These are cutting edge methodologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The process, a form of carbon sequestration, pulls carbon from the atmosphere to be held in either liquid or solid form. While all of our projects are some form of carbon sequestration, new carbon removal technologies are unique in the fact that they have the potential to remove carbon as it is being produced. The goal of these projects is to make production carbon neutral, and current investments into the projects can help accomplish their goal.
To put the potential impact into perspective, let’s look at the textile industry. Currently, textiles make up approximately 10% of all carbon emissions, around 1.2 billion tonnes each year. While some of these emissions come from shipping and the production of cotton, the majority of the carbon emitted is due to textile factories. If one of these projects becomes successful at a large scale, the emissions would be taken out of the atmosphere as soon as they were produced.
In reality, it will likely take years for this technology to be effective at such a large scale. However, early investments will allow these technologies to advance quicker, meaning new carbon removal technologies can be seen as the future of counteracting carbon emissions.
While the projects may be a few years away from mass application, they are still doing some pretty cool things. One such example can be found at MIT, where researchers have created a carbon sequestration device that pulls carbon dioxide out of the air in any concentration. The device then releases clean air, making it a constant carbon removal filter. Research has shown through their experimental process that the device can collect carbon in concentration as low as 400 parts per million. The invention has the potential to remove mass amounts of carbon in a single swoop, but needs to be increased in scale to make that a reality.
New carbon removal technologies can also include other novel methods of collecting carbon from the atmosphere. One interesting project at UC-Davis is engineering molecules that can change shape by creating new compounds that target carbon emissions. The compound only targets carbon, nothing else in the atmosphere. They are then collected via a device invented by the researchers, and washed, reeling a stream of CO2 to be collected and placed into carbon collection storage. The process is done in the same device, meaning it is fast and cost effective when compared to similar projects.
Carbon Sequestration is growing in popularity, with Bill Gates reportedly investing over 1 billion dollars into the industry. “Of course, investing in companies doesn’t make my carbon footprint smaller. But if I have picked any winners at all, they’ll be responsible for removing much more carbon than I or my family is responsible for” said Gates. Whether you are Microsoft, or a one person company, investing in emerging technologies can build the foundations for a greener future.