New Path to Net-Zero: Capturing Carbon and Storing It in the Ocean

A New Path to Net-Zero: Capturing Carbon and Storing It in the Ocean | Robert Collins

A New Path to Net-Zero: Capturing Carbon and Storing It in the Ocean

April 1, 2023 - By Robert Collins

Engineering researchers at Lehigh University have developed an ingenious method to capture carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the "infinite sink" of the ocean. This groundbreaking approach utilizes a copper-containing polymeric filter, converting CO2 into sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda. This sodium bicarbonate can then be harmlessly released into the ocean. The researchers call this new hybrid material or filter, DeCarbonHIX (decarbonization through hybrid ion exchange material), and it boasts a 300% increase in carbon capture compared to existing direct air capture methods.

DeCarbonHIX: A Game-Changer for Carbon Capture

Arup SenGupta, a researcher at Lehigh Engineering, has been the driving force behind this innovation. His work has garnered international attention from media outlets like BBC, CNN, Fast Company, and The Daily Beast, as well as professional organizations such as the American Chemical Society. SenGupta aims to develop direct air capture technology that can be implemented by people and countries worldwide, stating, "This is not technology for making money. It's for saving the world."

Addressing the Carbon Dioxide Problem

Carbon dioxide is the most abundant greenhouse gas contributing to global warming. According to the International Energy Agency, global CO2 emissions rose by 6% in 2021, reaching 36.3 gigatons. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that emissions from greenhouse gases have increased global temperatures by approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and that the average yearly temperature over the next 20 years is expected to rise by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Current methods of reducing CO2 emissions include government action and point source removal, but these approaches don't address existing CO2 in the atmosphere. Direct air capture (DAC) is a newer method that removes CO2 from the atmosphere, but it is limited by its capacity and storage challenges.

Overcoming the Capture and Storage Problem

SenGupta's DeCarbonHIX filter addresses both the capture and storage issues of direct air capture. The copper-infused filter enhances capturing capacity by 300%, allowing for DAC in various environments, including backyards, deserts, and oceans.

For storage, SenGupta turns to the ocean. Once the filter is saturated with CO2, seawater is passed through it, converting the CO2 into dissolved sodium bicarbonate, which can then be safely released into the ocean without altering

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