One of the great things about trees, and all plants for that matter, is their unique ability to store carbon dioxide. But plants don't simply store carbon dioxide...they convert it from a gaseous form into a solid form, a la sugar. And that basically boils down to about an 800-fold density increase in the matter.
So occasionally I see articles like this, where scientists have released a new method of capturing carbon. In the article, they call their 'artificial trees' is a building with resin panels that absorb CO2 very well, then release it when wetted. The building can absorb about a ton of CO2 a day, at a cost of $150 per ton.
What to do with that CO2 is an unsolved question. Sell it to oil mining companies to pump into the ground? Store it in caves? All that gas takes up a lot of space.
The firm producing the air scrubbers, Global Research Technologies, LLC, (most cliche business name ever???), seems to believe factories that produce carbon dioxide will buy these air scrubbing "artificial trees" as a way to offset carbon tax, or to capture the carbon for cap and trade.
TAE asks: if this costs $150 a ton, why not just plant some damn trees? If a factory needs to offset their carbon emissions, why not buy tree seedlings at $5 each, and have nearly zero maintenance...
Dave Nowak, a U.S. Forest Service researcher suggests the following trees are ideal for carbon capture: Common Horse-chestnut, Black Walnut, American Sweetgum, Ponderosa Pine, Red Pine, White Pine, Hispaniolan Pine, Douglas Fir, Scarlet Oak, Red Oak, Virginia Live Oak and Bald Cypress.
TAE would like to add his personal favorite choice: the Sycamore. Growing in excess of 100 feet tall and living upwards of 500 years, these massive trees store boatloads of carbon. Their huge, broad leaves are essentially carbon sequestration factories unlike any other in the world. A single sycamore tree at a cost of $5, it is estimated, can sequester 1 million tons of CO2 during its first 200 years.
Comparatively, the air scrubbing artificial tree would capture that same amount of carbon in roughly 2,700 years, at a cost of $20 million dollars.
In short, GRT's 'artificial tree' is neither an artificial tree nor a cost-effective way to sequester carbon. It might be a good way for industrial consumers of CO2 to acquire it cheaper, but I doubt these 'artificial trees' will save the world.
And this just highlights what I have said earlier: the person who discovers (and subsequently patents) cheap, artificial photosynthesis will be the richest person in history.
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