ATLANTA — Right now, the United Nations climate change conference is going on in Glasgow, Scotland.
But critics say what is being discussed is far short of what is needed to really help cut emissions, especially with China and Russia missing.
But unique technology might help. It’s called carbon capture. Think of it as a giant sponge that can take carbon right out of the air and help the environment.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Sophia Choi learned all about how it works.
She found you may be able to drink fizzy sodas filled with carbon dioxide captured through an emerging technology taking place right now in Iceland.
The primary technology uses 40-foot shipping containers filled with fans, that draw in air and capture the carbon on the surface of giant filters.
The $10 million commercial carbon capturing plant is the first of its kind, built by a Swiss company called Climeworks in 2017.
Jan Wurzbacher is Climeworks’ CEO.
“You as a customer, as a corporate, or even as a private individual could pay us to remove a certain amount or certain tonnage of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and safely permanently remove it by storing it underground,” Wurzbacher said.
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Here’s how it works: the building is basically a vacuum, sucking in air. That air then goes through large filters that capture the carbon dioxide on the surface. When the filter is soaked, it’s enclosed and baked. The carbon dioxide is then collected and either shot underground where it turns into stone after two years or sold to companies like Coca-Cola in Switzerland which is using it in Alpine mineral water.
“There is actually no difference with common standard CO2. So the bubbles, they are delivered from the Climeworks installation in liquid form. The CO2 then goes into the mixer unit,” said Patrick Wittweiler, head of sustainability for Coca-Cola Switzerland.
Climeworks also uses pipes to send the captured CO2 to nearby greenhouses to use as fertilizer. Buying the captured carbon isn’t cheap.
You can buy a subscription for $55 a month or $660 a year to get rid of 600 kilograms (about twice the weight of a large motorcycle) or about 1,300 lbs. of CO2.
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The EPA says that’s about the amount of CO2 emitted by a typical car driving 1,500 miles (about half the width of the United States).
And with demand growing, Climeworks is already working on another carbon capturing facility 10 times the size of the Iceland plant.
“We are offering carbon dioxide removal in a very comprehensive, in a very permanent, safe, measurable additional way,” Wurzbacher said.
Climeworks hopes to cut CO2 in the air by 1% by 2025.
And this effort goes beyond Europe. Right here in America, research and development on carbon capturing is happening at companies like General Electric in New York.
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