An Ingenious Method to Reduce Carbon Dioxide Levels

Carbon+Dioxide

8BillionTrees.com

Man holds CO2 sign in the street near heavy traffic producing pollution.

In 2021 alone, approximately 36.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) were emitted globally. Even if all CO2 emissions were to be completely stopped by switching to renewable sources, the harmful impact that CO2 emissions will have on the earth is inevitable. Thus, along with harnessing renewable energy sources, it is imperative to search for solutions involving the sequestration of CO2. Better yet would be a combination of the two — the usage of CO2 to create energy, the focus of many scientists and researchers around the world. 

In the modern age, motor vehicles such as cars and trucks are used constantly in our everyday lives — and they produce a lot of exhaust. In fact, they produced over 20.27% of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020. Using the carbon dioxide captured from the atmosphere to create transportation fuels would essentially cancel out the vast amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted by motorized vehicles, greatly reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere. 

 Carbon Sciences, a public company, devised a way to create fuel using CO2. Transportation fuels are made up of hydrocarbons, chemicals containing only carbon and hydrogen. To create a transportation fuel with carbon dioxide,  the CO2 must be converted into long, liquid hydrocarbons. The process starts off by electrolyzing the CO2 with the help of water, to form carbon monoxide (CO), which when combined with hydrogen and some CO2 forms synthesis gas or syngas.

“Carbon dioxide must be removed from the atmosphere in order to reverse the ill-effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the earth, or global warming will impact our planet more than it ever has before.””

— Bharat Nambisan

Through a process known as the Fischer-Tropsch Reaction, the CO in syngas is combined with hydrogen to produce synthesis crude oil (Syncrude), which is important for creating transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel.

Therefore, as Carbon Sciences shows, CO2 and water can be used to create transportation fuels, which will allow for not only the removal of CO2 in the atmosphere, but also a valuable use for carbon dioxide as a source of energy for the future. Bryan Elton of Carbon Sciences also adds, “The entire process of turning CO2 into fuel took between 8 and 10 hours,” another benefit to this form of fuel production.

 However, CO2-based transportation fuel is far from the perfect source of energy as its production is very expensive due to the heat and energy it requires.  Is it worth the effort to switch to this new form of fuel production, or do its disadvantages outweigh its advantages?

Even if we do not accept this approach in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, it is crucial that we focus on the topic to save the earth from toxic greenhouse gases. The good news is, new fascinating technologies aiming to use CO2 to create valuable products are becoming increasingly popular — CO2 can be used in carbonated beverages, plastic toys, and furniture, among other commonly used items. Ultimately, reducing CO2 emissions is not enough — CO2 must be removed from the atmosphere in order to reverse the ill-effects of carbon dioxide emissions on the earth, or global warming will impact our planet more than it ever has before.