Carbon dioxide molecules: They’re tiny, roughly a million times smaller than a speck of pollen, and they’re elusive. For every 10,000 molecules floating in the air, just four are carbon dioxide.
It’s not an understatement to say that capturing carbon dioxide directly from the air is really hard. And yet, it’s that very challenge that scientists at technology company Global Thermostat have set out to tackle.
Launched in 2010 by Dr. Peter Eisenberger and Dr. Graciela Chichilnisky, Global Thermostat has developed an agile solution that could potentially help meet the world’s climate goals.
Their carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology works by soaking up carbon dioxide emissions from the air, as well as from industrial facilities and power plants. Global Thermostat’s solution essentially vacuums carbon dioxide from the environment using a fan that pipes in air and chemicals called amines that remove the CO2 from the air, industrial facilities or power plant flue gas.
The company is currently testing the technology at a pilot plant at SRI International, an R&D facility in California. The data collected there will help ExxonMobil scientists and engineers evaluate possibilities to scale it for broader global application.
“Our scientists see potential in this exciting new technology that could lead to more affordable means for reducing emissions in the power generation and industrial sectors, and also for potentially removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,” explained Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at ExxonMobil.
Global Thermostat’s carbon capture work could one day revolutionize the process of energy production, mitigating the risks of climate change while supporting rising living standards everywhere.