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Student article: The Innovation of Carbon Capture Technology

On the 22nd of January 2021, one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of around 188 billion USD, Elon Musk, tweeted that he would be “donating $100M towards a prize for best carbon capture technology”. This astounding number, if put into effect would be an extremely philanthropic donation towards fighting climate change.

To understand the function of carbon capture technology today, one must understand the impact of CO2 emissions on the earth’s climate. CO2 (along with methane) is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases produced on the planet and is responsible for approximately ¾ of all emissions. This gas is generally produced through the burning of fossil fuels and organic waste, and when released it becomes trapped in the atmosphere and absorbs solar radiation, which contributes to the heat of the planet as a portion of it is re-emitted to the earth. According to NASA, the earth’s temperature globally has increased by 1-degree Celsius since 1880, with ⅔ of the warming having occurred since 1975, around the age of the industrial revolution.

A possible solution or betterment to the situation involving the climate, that is being pursued by scientists recently, is the technology of carbon capture. The fundamental principle of carbon capture is trapping the carbon dioxide when it is first produced, directly from its source and moving it to a location where it can be stored and isolated. This would be a green alternative to the usage of power plants, as their emissions could be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

Many researchers have been working on different methods of doing so. For example, a group from George Washington University are working on creating a compound that can essentially gather CO2 from the surrounding air, eventually resulting in the carbon to form a solid in one area. A similar method of this was used to create carbon nanofibres that can be used for purposes such as in building things.

More innovation as such could be used to reduce the impact of greenhouse gases on the gradually rising climate, which would be a step in the right direction for the future of our planet.

By Sophie Rasmussen, GRADE 9