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  • Iceland: the land of majestic waterfalls, black sands, sparkling glaciers, and... maybe

  • one of the world’s wildest solutions for solving climate change?

  • Nestled beside the majestic hills of southwestern Iceland, are a series of huge pods

  • capable of taking CO2 that's been snatched from the air and injecting it into underground stones,

  • where the gas can be stored safely for millenia.

  • And yes, this might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it’s all real, and

  • it’s actually happening.

  • Just so were clear, our planet is heating up, and fast.

  • CO2 levels now exceed 415 parts per million, higher than theyve ever been in the past

  • 800,000 years.

  • And while there’s dispute over what number constitutes a dangerous threshold, there is

  • consensus that those levels must drop to avoid imminent catastrophic warming.

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, estimates that by the end of the

  • century we must pull at least 100 gigatons of CO2 and as much as

  • 1,000 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

  • Which, to put that into perspective, is the equivalent of 20 years worth of global greenhouse

  • gas emissions.

  • So now youre probably thinking the same thing that I’m thinking: HOW are we

  • going to accomplish that?!

  • Well, in addition to the rapid adoption of renewable energy and wide-scale reforestation,

  • the IPCC maintains that carbon dioxide removal technologies will be critical to tackling

  • climate change.

  • And that’s where direct air capture, or DAC technology, comes into play.

  • This idea of pulling CO2 directly from the air has actually been around for well over

  • a decade, but it’s only been in the past few years that this tech has really come into its own.

  • DAC works by redirecting carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and placing it somewhere

  • more benign.

  • Like inside rocks.

  • At least, that’s what Climeworks has been doing at its plant in Iceland since operations

  • began in late 2017.

  • The machine consists of a single collector

  • that's able capture CO2 straight from the air using reusable filters.

  • As air is drawn into the plant, the CO2 molecules within it chemically bind to filter materials.

  • The filter is then heated up to about 100°C, causing the CO2 molecules to unstick from

  • the filter and collect as concentrated gas.

  • This gas is then mixed with water and injected underground, where it reacts with basalt to

  • become stone in under two years.

  • Meanwhile, the CO2-free air is sent back from whence it came, and the cycle repeats.

  • While removing 2,500 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and safely storing it beneath

  • the Earth is one use, Climeworks is also demonstrating captured carbon’s ability to transform into

  • methane that can be used to power cars, like at its plant in Italy.

  • And over in Switzerland, a waste incineration site supplies power to their their DAC plant,

  • which funnels captured carbon into nearby greenhouses to ripen vegetables.

  • By demonstrating captured carbon’s many uses, Climeworks has managed to become the first-ever

  • DAC company to go commercial.

  • The company also excitedly claims that its technology is a negative emissions solution,

  • meaning that more carbon is being moved from the biosphere to the geosphere than the other

  • way around.

  • But there’s some question over whether or not this technology can truly be effective.

  • Right off the bat, it’s clear that it must be massively scaled up if it’s ever going

  • to make a dent in the 1,000 gigatons of CO2 that we have to scrub from the air.

  • While the Climeworks plant in Switzerland is capable of capturing 900 metric tons of

  • CO2 annually, the biggest concern is the fairly substantial energy expenditures needed to

  • extract all that CO2 from the air in the first place.

  • According to company estimates, the scaled up process will use about 2,000 KWh of heat and 650 KWh

  • of electricity per metric ton of CO2.

  • By sequestering carbon onsite and using renewable energy from nearby geothermal plants, the

  • Iceland operation intends to lessen its carbon-footprint...but all of this still makes you wonder

  • how we definenegative emissions.’

  • Climeworks has set a goal to eliminate about 400 million metric tons of CO2—or about

  • 1% of global emissionsby 2025, banking on carbon’s increasing value as a trading

  • commodity that can help potential buyers, like energy companies and countries, meet

  • climate targets.

  • But it’s still just a 1% reduction, so it’s clear that while technologies,

  • like Climeworks' solutions, are really cool, they can't tackle climate change alone.

  • And the race to find more solutions is still very much on.

  • Do you think that this carbon-capture technology can really make a dent in removing atmospheric carbon?

  • Let us know in the comments below.

  • And don’t forget to subscribe for more Seeker.

  • As always, thanks for watching and we'll see you next time.

Iceland: the land of majestic waterfalls, black sands, sparkling glaciers, and... maybe

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地球に炭素を注入することは地球を救うことができるのか? (Could Injecting Carbon Into the Earth Save Our Planet?)

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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