Artificial trees, air capture machines & synthetic fuels: solutions to tackle climate change

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is calling for funding to be prioritised for geo-engineering technologies

"Governments must prioritise funding for geo-engineering," says IMechE. Machines like artificial trees hold the key to tackling CO2 emissions from aeroplanes and ships.

Ahead of the latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Expert Meeting, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) called for funding to be prioritised for geo-engineering technologies if the global community is to move forward with tackling historic emissions and emissions from difficult to manage sources like aircraft, ships and industrial processes.

The Institution’s Head of Energy and Environment Dr Tim Fox said: “Technology like artificial trees, air capture machines and synthetic fuels may sound a bit science fiction, but currently these are the most feasible types of technology for dealing with difficult CO2 emissions.

“The UK needs to show leadership and provide funding for air capture research and development, as well as develop policy to encourage businesses to invest in air capture and carbon recycling.

“As international climate change negotiations continue to make slow progress, geo-engineering offers the potential to defer climate change for long enough to implement effective mitigation and adaptation strategies.”

The Institution’s Air Capture Position Statement is calling on UK Government to:

  • support more detailed work to establish the cost of air capture technology and demonstrate its feasibility;
  • develop policy frameworks that enable the adoption of negative emissions and carbon recycling approaches to mitigation; and
  • provide international leadership on negative emissions and carbon recycling.

Artificial trees work much like real trees by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere but up to a thousand times more efficiently.

Removing the CO2 from the air and storing it underground creates negative emissions which help reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Carbon recycling is where industries that need CO2 as a chemical feedstock for the production of things like fertilizer, source their CO2 from the air using air capture machines and thereby establishing a ‘closed’ loop for the carbon.

Geo-engineering is a crucial element in our fight against climate change, together with mitigation and adaptation, and policy-makers must stop ignoring the contribution that geo-engineering technologies could make.

The full Air Capture Position Statement is available here:

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