Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have figured out a new way of removing carbon dioxide from a stream of air. The new system can work on the gas at virtually any concentration level, even down to the roughly 400 parts per million currently found in the atmosphere.
This new system uses a device which is essentially a large battery that absorbs carbon dioxide from the air passing over its electrodes as it is being charged up, and then releases the gas as it is being discharged. The whole system operates at room temperature and normal air pressure.
In their testing, the team has proven the system can withstand at least 7,000 charging-discharging cycles, with a 30 percent loss in efficiency over that time. The engineers believe they can get that number to 20,000 to 50,000 cycles with some tweaking.
When it comes to energy consumption this new system is very efficient using one gigajoule of energy per ton of carbon dioxide captured versus up to 10 gigajoules per ton using conventional systems and methods.
The engineers have set up a company called Verdox to commercialize the process, and hope to develop a pilot-scale plant within the next few years.