When we speak about a synthetic tree the mind will directly flow to the plastic Christmas tree that we all see in the Mall in December. I am proud to say that I own one and I’m not ashamed of it as for my family use there is no need to chop another tree from the woods. But let’s get to more serious stuff.
Columbia University has announced the development of a structure that could capture carbon 1,000 times faster than a real tree. Does it mean we will not grow trees anymore and we’ll only use plastic ones for decoration? That would be sad! But the invention has a huge potential as professor Klaus Lackner said, the “tree” could be used for capturing carbon which has been already emitted into the air by car gasoline or airplain fuel. The geophysics professor said he has been working on this project since 1998 and sees a bright future for his invention considering the actual global pollution.
The concept is said to be flexible in size and could be placed nearly anywhere. It works by collecting carbon dioxide on a sorbent, cleaning and pressurizing the gas, and releasing it. As a sponge collects water, the sorbent would collect carbon dioxide. Depending on size, each synthetic “tree” could absorb one ton of carbon dioxide per day which is approximate the amount produced by 20 cars. Things look nice when we think about the results but they come with high expenses. Manufacturing of the structure will costs about $30,000. As the global economy is going down each day, probably this project won’t see the light of market till later. Another reason would be that, for example US would need at least 6,8 million “trees” to clean the CO2 from their 135 million cars, and the costs are incredible high. So at least in the next few years we must go back to the roots and plant more trees if we want our planet cleaner.
But professor Lackner is not giving this up so quickly and he involved also Global Research Technologies in this project, a Tucson, Arizona based company, of which Lackner is co-founder and chairman. Besides this he already paid some visits to the US Energy Secretary Steven Chu to discuss the concept which Lacknes sais will be finished in the next three years. He made as well a written proposal to the Department of Energy in a continuous effort to attract attention to the concept which seems to be several hundred times more efficient than traditional windmills.
Let’s hope that by the time the work will be done and the “tree” could be brought to the market, the price will decrease as well. Nevertheless people will not be able to change the use of real threes with any kind of structure, and they still play an enormous role in our life. We must imagine the forests not only as carbon capturers but as well as life protectors, keepers and creators.