Though some may dispute the idea of global warming or climate change, it is hard for me to call it into question, especially after seeing on the news this morning that the temperature in Wilmington hit 84 degrees on November 10.
Temperatures are rising across the globe and scientists have been preaching about the need to make a change and move away from fossil fuels for years. Understanding that old habits are hard to break, however, many are touting carbon capture technology as a saving grace.
Large, standalone systems designed to remove carbon dioxide from the air are being developed right now by a variety of companies. The notion that we can engineer our way out of this crisis sounds great, though detractors of these systems point out that the energy required to capture the carbon dioxide negates the positive impact.
Part of the problem is that these carbon capture systems rely on moving large amounts of air. But in a development proving that the simplest solution is often the best, a paper that was published in Nature Communications points out that existing HVAC systems also move large amounts of air.
What makes this so exciting is that the authors show that existing HVAC systems could be retrofitted to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The technology required to make this happen isn’t something in the realm of science fiction; instead it is already commercially available.
Just imagine all of those air conditioners that work so hard in the summertime to make our homes comfortable, all working to reverse the negative impacts of climate change. It is an intriguing idea to say the least, especially considering that the energy required for air conditioning has increased by a factor of 300 percent since 1990.
If the current trend does not change and fossil fuels continue as the main power source for HVAC systems, we could be facing a grim future. But enough of the gloom and doom!
One of the most exciting ideas mentioned in the article is that all of our existing HVAC systems could not only be retrofitted to remove carbon dioxide from the air, they could also be modified to produce a synthetic, liquid hydrocarbon fuel. The basic idea is that the system would first take carbon dioxide and water out of the air. The water and carbon dioxide could then be converted into hydrogen. The next phase would take the hydrogen through a multiple-step chemical process using existing technologies, transforming it into a renewable, easily accessible hydrocarbon fuel.
A drawback to some of the carbon capture systems being developed is that the carbon dioxide removed from the air has to be stored somewhere. Regardless of how or where the carbon dioxide would be stored, the potential for the container to leak or break would always exist. As the authors write, “this could have a significant impact on the carbon dioxide load emitted into the atmosphere while safely storing available renewable electrical energy and heat in the form of high-energy-density chemical fuel.”
As with the process for retrofitting HVAC systems to capture carbon dioxide, the technology to convert it into liquid hydrocarbon fuels already exists. This idea is being called ‘crowd oil,’ alluding to the concept of the ‘crowd electricity’ that is produced from solar panels and a lot has been written about it. The authors are hoping to have a working model out soon, and I am one of many who are eager to see it.
If nothing else, the concept of crowd oil is definitely interesting, and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Of course, I am also always happy to connect with you and schedule a consultation about the effectiveness of your current HVAC system, so please reach out at 910-791-0480, via text at 910-612-0052, or email at [email protected].
Chris Jones and the team at Green Dot HVAC are committed to provide their clients with a consultative, transparent approach, driven by innovative technology and a diligent work ethic. With a team of highly trained and versatile technicians, a focus on helping clients make informed decisions, and a commitment to deliver substantial value, Green Dot HVAC is a leader in the Southeast North Carolina marketplace. To arrange a free at-home consultation, a repair/installation or simply find guidance about the nuances of modern heating and air conditioning systems, call 910-791-0480 or text 910-612-0052.
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