Plus, calculating the potential for solar energy in the U.S., the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge opens in Washington, and more design-tech news.
Just one month following the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‘s dismal report, the Swiss carbon capture company Climeworks has officially opened Orca, “the world’s largest direct air capture and storage plant that permanently removes CO₂ from the air,” according to the company. Located in western Iceland, the carbon dioxide–removal facility runs on renewable energy and can capture up to 4,000 tons of carbon each year using modular collectors. The units suck in air through large fans, channeling it through a “highly selective filter material” that removes the carbon while containing it in the unit. The carbon is heated and released from the filter in a pure form that Climeworks collects and pumps deep underground. There, the carbon dioxide mineralizes naturally, turning to stone within years, according to the company. [Climeworks]
In more carbon capture news, researchers from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a process that makes carbon capture cheaper and transforms captured carbon dioxide into methane, which will ultimately lower the price of natural gas. The development relies on EEMPA, a chemical that binds to carbon dioxide and makes it easier to convert into methane. “Right now a large fraction of the natural gas used in the U.S. has to be pumped out of the ground, and demand is expected to increase over time, even under climate change mitigation pathways,” said lead researcher Jotheeswari Kothandaraman in a PNNL press release. “The methane produced by this process—made using waste CO₂ and renewably sourced hydrogen—could offer an alternative for utilities and consumers looking for natural gas with a renewable component and a lower carbon footprint.” [Pacific Northwest National Laboratory]
The U.S. Department of Energy has published a study that outlines a potential rapid expansion of solar energy, “detailing the significant role solar will play in decarbonizing the nation’s power grid,” according to a DOE press release. The “Solar Futures Study” shows that by 2035 solar energy could provide up to 40% of the nation’s electricity and employ as many as 1.5 million people, all without raising the price of electricity. [Department of Energy]
Read on >>>> Source: Week in Tech: The Future of Carbon Capture | Architect Magazine