Imagine no restrictions on fossil-fuel usage and no global warming

ORLANDO, Fla., April 9, 2002 - Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory are studying a simple, cost effective method for extracting carbon dioxide directly from the air - which could allow sustained use of fossil fuels while avoiding potential global climate change.

The method would allow researchers to harvest carbon dioxide from the air, reducing buildup of the so-called "greenhouse gas" in the atmosphere and allowing it to be converted into fuel. A Los Alamos-led research team today presented the topic at the 223rd annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Orlando, Fla.

"Fossil fuel supplies are plentiful, and what will limit the usage of fossil fuels is the potential climatic and ecosystem changes you may see as a result of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere," said Los Alamos researcher Manvendra Dubey. "If you can capture atmospheric carbon dioxide, then you limit the environmental impact of fossil fuels and you can continue to use them. We have come up with a way to capture and sequester the carbon dioxide that we are putting in the atmosphere. Our approach is particularly well suited to capturing CO2 from numerous small sources such as automobiles that are largely being ignored."

While many scientists are working on capturing or sequestering carbon, Dubey and his colleagues' method differs because it works on a dilute stream of CO2 in the atmosphere as opposed to capturing more concentrated forms found in power plant exhausts. The method uses ordinary air with its average carbon dioxide concentration of about 370 parts per million.

It utilizes the wind and natural atmospheric mixing to transport CO2 to a removal site, and it is the only means available to capture CO2 generated from transportation sources and small, dispersed sources that account for nearly half of all carbon dioxide emissions.

The air is passed over an extraction agent, for example a solution of quicklime, the active

Contact: James Rickman
DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory

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