Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Why bother with natural trees when you can build a forest of mechanical trees to remove CO2 from the air?
How do we solve a problem like climate change? With innovations like Mechanical Trees
Opinion: With the right investments, Arizona could be home to a thriving carbon removal sector. Mechanical trees are a good place to start.
January 1, 2021
Researchers like me in Arizona and the United States are driving carbon removal, a diverse set of innovative strategies that are growing support among industry leaders, across the corporate sector, and in Congress. Much of the recent media focus has been on natural techniques like planting trees.
These solutions are necessary but not sufficient.
To really change the game and tackle climate change, we also need technological solutions like DAC (Direct Air Capture) machines that pull excess carbon dioxide out of the air.
I take pride in working on such innovations at Arizona State University. At the ASU Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, we are investigating how we can efficiently and economically get the wind to deliver carbon dioxide to mechanical trees. Imagine a forest of these trees that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – many times more efficiently than real trees – that can then be stored deep underground or used in products from cement to fresh, climate-neutral fuels.
More breakthrough innovations require more resources. The federal government is best positioned for this and makes the USA a leading company in the development and use of this climate-friendly technology.
Klaus Lackner is Director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions and Professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University. Contact him at [email protected]
Read more: https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2021/01/01/mechanical-trees-innovative-way-address-climate-change/4027597001/
Mechanical trees can be one of the less harmful climate ideas. At the very least, they are unlikely to cremate wildlife en masse like California's solar panels or knock endangered eagles out of the air like wind turbines. A forest of mechanical trees might even be of little value as a robot art installation.