Artificial Trees That Absorb CO2 – Hot Planet Preview – BBC One

trees absorb carbon dioxide but they release it during the night and when they decompose so professor Klaus Lackner an engineer Alan Wright have been designing a tree which could be more efficient than the real thing it was here at biosphere 2 in Arizona that the idea was first conceived biosphere 2 was the largest completely airtight artificial ecosystem ever built the perfect place to study how changes in carbon dioxide would affect the planet after working on several prototypes Klaus and Alan now think they might have finally cracked it this was an early design more like a cabinet than a tree inside a plastic that absorbs co2 these plastics are in exchange resins which are commonly used in water preparation if you disseminate water or make the ionized water this is the kind of stuff you would use you can buy it commercially in large quantities at first I used chemicals to wash the co2 out of the plastic so it could be reused but this needed too much energy to be viable then they made a discovery that was quite simple it happened after they set up a basic experiment using nothing more than an airtight Bell Jar hooked up to a carbon dioxide monitor an experiment they repeated for me here on top you see the plastic material which absorbs the co2 it has been wrapped in thin strips around the frame the level of co2 in the bell jar starts at 386 todays atmospheric levels as expected the plastic immediately absorbs it so the levels of co2 in here are really low around about 140 okay but what they do next they feel is the real breakthrough and so simple they don't the plastic in water and we'll just put it back in there those are the game now the air inside cannot escape back in the bell jar the wet plastic immediately starts to release the absorb co2 okay and the levels are already going on yes so we're going to see it's beginning to trend up and it will pick up over time as the co2 is given off by that material so just by making it wet it's now releasing the co2 that was previously trapped yes I mean it's wet it doesn't want to see you too so it pushes it off it's as simple as that it's as simple as that it's amazing it is and then you can dry it out again when it dries out again it will grab more co2 we'll do this over and over and over and over and can literally do this hundreds and hundreds of times having ensured that rainfall will not release the co2 Allanon class and now building a full-scale artificial tree when finished it will have a central drum with panels of the special plastic and a humidity control system by altering the moisture levels it will absorb and then release the co2 for storage this process requires no chemicals only a very small amount of energy and a water supply the vision of the future for these kind of artificial trees is that they can capture the carbon dioxide nobody else can catch that's their advantage that is their strength they estimate that a single tree will absorb about a ton of co2 a day about 75 cars worth 60 million trees could potentially absorb all the co2 we currently emit and that's not all this is one of the few options available to actually go back and reduce the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere from the level we are already at or will be in 50 years from now back down to where it is safe all this absorbed carbon dioxide would of course need to be put somewhere but that's where other new technologies come in like the geological storage of co2 that's being tested in Utah and because co2 levels are the same around the planet a great forest of artificial trees could be placed right on top of storage sites so the co2 wouldn't have to be transported you

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