The latest invention of researchers from Columbia University is an artificial tree that is able to capture carbon dioxide a thousand times faster that a real tree. The lead researcher and a professor of geophysics at Columbia University, Klaus Lackner, has been developing the project for over 10 years and holds hope that the artificial tree will be a very important tool for tackling climate change.
Scientists will use their latest invention to trap greenhouse gas emitted by vehicles or airplanes. The synthetic tree, which resembles a cylinder, will not require direct sunlight, water of branches to work properly. According to Lackner, the tree is flexible in size and can be placed almost anywhere.
Here's how it works: the synthetic tree gathers the greenhouse gas on a sorbent, cleans and pressures the carbon dioxide and then releases it. The technique of gas absorption resembles that of a sponge that collects water.
During a whole day one artificial tree will be able to collect one ton of CO2, which equals to the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by 20 cars. The technology is currently in the development stage at Global Research Technologies, a company based in Tucson, Arizona, co-founded by Lackner, who at the moment is its chairman. Such invention might serve well for the environment by it is quite costly - each synthetic tree requires $30,000 to make, reports CNN.
Data presented by the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that currently in the United States there are about 135,932,930 vehicles, which means that in order to absorb the amount of carbon emitted by these cars, the country would need to "plant" 6.8 million synthetic trees (that's $204 billion). With the current global economic crisis the project will probably remain in the development stage for some time. Still, Lackner and his team look forward to push their latest invention full-force. The researcher managed to arrange a meeting with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to talk about the concept.