WEEKLY PICK OF STIMULATING IDEAS AND OPINIONS
In a few years, we’ll be making petrol from air
IAf only we could suck carbon dioxide out of the air like plants, and turn it into useful things — like petrol, plastics and concrete — the spectre of global warming would go away. Scientists have long toyed with the idea of ‘direct air capture (DAC)’, but now it has become a viable technology, says Peter H Diamandis, founder of the XPrize Foundation.
“In the coming 10 years, sourcing carbon out of the air will become more costeffective than carbon sourced from the ground (oil). By 2030, the carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) industry is expected to reach $800 billion.”
Unlike petroleum, which is found at only a few places, carbon dioxide is uniformly distributed in the atmosphere. “There is as much carbon dioxide above Los Angeles, California as rests above the Patagonian Desert.” This means, you could start making fuel anywhere. There will be no need for convoys of trucks to carry fuel to Leh. And DAC might be the key to colonising Mars, where the atmosphere is 98% carbon dioxide. It will also make food there.
While experts say DAC can compete with petroleum once the cost of carbon extraction dips below $100 per ton, one startup is already claiming $94 per ton, while another promises to do it at $50 per ton on a large scale.
Burning petrol and diesel made from carbon dioxide present in the air does not cause global warming
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