How Effective Are Alternative Sources of Carbon Sequestration
By: Jane Marsh
The green movement and sustainable government policies are influencing technological advancements. Engineers are creating alternative carbon sequestration techniques to target emissions.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has been used for decades to store industrial emissions in secure underground facilities. Newer carbon sequestration practices improve global sustainability and scalability of carbon management. These practices store emissions long-term in building materials like concrete. Reducing emissions can shrink the global footprint, protect human health, and create green jobs.
Pollution Reduction Policies
CCS practices have some ecological limitations. Storing emissions under layers of soil can deplete nutrient levels. It also may increase soil acidity, reducing agricultural production.
Finding alternative carbon sequestration methods can minimize environmental degradation and support pollution reduction policies. The U.S. developed the Clean Air Act (CAA), which influences carbon sequestration practices. The CAA regulates and limits emissions from residents and corporations.
Some individuals are shrinking their carbon footprint by relying on natural gas. Nationwide, the deregulated energy market means energy producers are supporting consumer demands with natural gas and other coal alternatives to minimize emissions. Other individuals target carbon emissions in the built environment.
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) developed the Net Zero Imperative, which focuses on decarbonizing built structures. CCS alone may not fulfill the ULI’s sustainability pursuit. Residents and business owners can abide by pollution reduction policies when using alternative carbon sequestration methods.
Biological Carbon Sequestration
Alternative carbon sequestration methods mimic natural occurrences. Oceans, soil, forests, and grasslands naturally absorb and filter air pollution. Vegetation relies on carbon dioxide to support photosynthesis.
Some environmental engineers are using more natural methods to create technological alternatives. The alternatives are often more effective, too, in that they lose less carbon to leaks and mismanagement. Geological carbon sequestration also reduces atmospheric degradation by storing pollution underground.
Biological and geological carbon sequestration methods are similar but have distinct differences. The geological alternative converts emissions into a liquid and injects them into rock formations. The practice is effective and prevents the equivalent of nearly 1 billion vehicle emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Technological Carbon Sequestration
Engineers are also exploring the efficiency of biological carbon sequestration and creating technological alternatives. Technological sequestration uses advanced systems to remove emissions from confined spaces. Capture and storage technologies may remove nearly 90% of air pollutants from power plants.
The technology focuses on recycling pollutants and enhancing sequestration efficiency levels. Technological alternatives capture emissions more effectively, whereas biological matter lets some pollution escape.
Direct air capture (DAC) methods also rely on technological devices to extract local emissions.
Direct Air Capture
DAC technologies use liquid and solid solutions to capture and store pollution. Liquid DAC systems filter polluted air through a hydroxide solution. The solution removes carbon dioxide, returning purified air back into the environment.
Solid DAC systems rely on sorbent filters, which chemically bind to carbon dioxide. Professionals then heat the filter, collecting concentrated carbon with a vacuum. Individuals can store the emissions using biological or geological methods.
DAC carbon-capturing technologies effectively minimize air pollution. The technology is also expensive and energy-intensive, limiting its compatibility with many industries. A more cost-effective alternative supporting the circular economy relies on graphene.
Environmental engineers manufactured a carbon filter out of graphene, which is more efficient than other methods. They placed carbon-dioxide-sized holes in the graphene, helping air pollutants filter through. The engineers also developed a restriction method for keeping other gases like nitrogen out.
Graphene has a high capture performance rating. It is also an affordable material, which increases its global accessibility. Individuals can filter emissions from the air for around $30 per ton of carbon while using the technology.
The filtration practice also supports the circular economy. Individuals can reuse graphene from carbon filters to create smartphone screens and other materials. Recycling the material minimizes mining-related degradation.
Another carbon sequestration alternative involves engineered molecules. Developers are manufacturing molecules that change shapes and target carbon emissions. The molecules absorb and filter pollutants.
The technology is new and its efficiency levels are less stable compared to biological methods. Molecular engineering is also less cost-effective than other carbon sequestration methods. Scientists predict the technology’s cost may drop below $100 per ton of carbon in the future.
The Future of Carbon Sequestration
The price of carbon sequestration alternatives affects their adoption rates. While countries work hard to shrink their carbon footprints, scientists continue developing advanced filtration systems that can be deployed inexpensively and at scale. New technologies may offer greater efficiency than traditional CCS methods.
Advanced systems can retain more carbon for extended periods and reduce leak-related pollution. Optimizing carbon filtration and storage practices is essential to achieving global sustainability goals. Reducing atmospheric pollution also protects individuals from adverse health effects over time.
Author bio: Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co.