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Carbon-Capture Could Play a Vital Role in Combatting Climate Change

By: Nina Gupta

This February, the United Nations announced that climate change had reached a crisis moment. In this statement, they predicted that many islands could soon be flooded because of rising water levels, and drought and famine could cause certain areas to become unhabitable.

To combat this problem, governments have turned to carbon-capture and storage technology (CCS) which stores carbon dioxide taken from the air underground. They hope that this new method can quickly solve the problem of global warming. Currently, there are 27 CCS projects worldwide, and 14 of them are in the United States.

According to MIT’s Climate Portal, “Most current carbon capture projects use a liquid to chemically remove the CO2 before it goes out the smokestack, but several new types of capture processes are under development.” Generally, carbon-capture occurs at power plants or industrial plants which make cement, steel, or chemicals, as they are large sources of carbon dioxide.

CCS is inspired by natural processes like photosynthesis, aiming to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it into usable energy. According to The Washington Post, “In the early 1970s, oil and gas companies began using a chemical process to separate carbon dioxide from gas pumped on-site and steer it back into oil fields to get more oil from the ground.”

There are a couple of types of CCS technology. One is a carbon-capture system that is attached to a factory that emits carbon dioxide. In this case, the CCS system would directly store the emitted carbon in the ground. The other type is direct air capture, where CCS technology uses chemical reactions to separate carbon dioxide from the air and store it underground. Direct air capture has an easier setup, as it doesn’t need to be directly attached to another factory.

Despite many critics saying that CCS is too costly to justify the results, there has been increased funding for the innovative technology recently. Elon Musk tweeted that he would pay 100 million dollars to whoever could come up with the best CCS technology. Furthermore, in late May, the Biden administration set aside $3.5 billion for this technology, intending to use it to construct four direct air capture facilities in the U.S.

With climate change reaching a tipping point, and thousands of homes and habitats threatened, carbon-capture technology could be a vital part of the solution to climate change.

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