warm up to cool down
Could heat from the Earth's crust be used to remove carbon from the atmosphere?
In the fight against climate change, carbon capture technology, where carbon dioxide is sucked out of the atmosphere, has become an increasingly hot topic. However, the most significant drawback of the technology is the energy required, reports The Washington Post.
Despite carbon dioxide's effect on climate change, the greenhouse gas only makes up 0.04 percent of ambient air, making its extraction very energy intensive and challenging. The entire capture process would be futile if it required energy from greenhouse gases to operate.
Fervo Energy, a company based in Houston, Texas is hoping to harvest geothermal energy from Earth's crust. Drilling just one to two miles below the earth's crust can provide access to temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit where water can be pumped and converted to steam-powered electricity, the Post continues. "You have to have your energy from a carbon-free source," said Timothy Latimer, the CEO of Fervo Energy. "Geothermal is a great match."
Geothermal plants can both produce electricity and be used to capture carbon because electricity production always leaves residual heat at approximately 212 degrees, ideal for capturing carbon. "It's a totally unexplored place," Latimer said. "What would you do differently in the design of a geothermal power plant if you knew you were pairing it with a direct air capture facility?"
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have emphasized how carbon capture will be needed to meet climate coals, predicting that ten gigatons per year of carbon need to be removed per year through 2050, and even more after. "We are not waiting for the year 2100. We are not waiting for the year 2050," said Philip Jakpor, director of programs nonprofit Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa. "We believe the time for action should be now."