Chemically scrubbing carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere is too expensive.
(PhysOrg.com) -- While it is possible to chemically scrub carbon dioxide from Earth's atmosphere in order to lessen the severity of global warming, the process is prohibitively expensive for now. Best to focus on controls for coal-burning power plants, say researchers.
Someday the world may be in a position to lower the concentration of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by chemically removing it from the air.
But not soon; the process is simply too expensive, say scientists from Stanford and MIT.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by Stanford energy and environmental researcher Jennifer Wilcox, concludes that if air-capture of carbon dioxide with chemicals is ever used, it will be far in the future.
For now, it is much more economically efficient to capture the carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere from the smokestacks of large centralized sources such as power plants, cement plants, fertilizer plants and refineries.
After a detailed comparison, the research team concluded that the cost of removal from air is likely to be on the order of $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide, compared with $50 to $100 per ton for current power-plant scrubbers.