A controversial technology for recovering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is to be operated in the UK for the first time as part of a week of events organised by the IMechE designed to push air capture further up the climate change agenda.
Attendees to a summit at the institution will get the chance to see a prototype air-capture machine in action developed by US physicist Klaus Lackner, who first conceived of using mechanical “trees” to capture CO2. The prototype, which Lackner is shipping from New York, is a glass tank containing the filters that he proposes could be used in air-capture machines. By monitoring a PC, visitors to the summit can observe the filters extract CO2 from the atmosphere, so that it drops from 390-400 parts per million to 200ppm within 15 minutes. They will also get the chance to see Lackner’s “low energy” method for removing the gases from the filters.
Engineers, scientists, government officials and senior civil servants from the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are expected to attend the summit.
Dr Tim Fox, head of energy and climate change at the institution, said Air Capture Week, which will run from Monday 24 October, had the potential to “make a big contribution to practical steps forward in the development of air-capture technology governance and policy”.
He added: “The IMechE is taking the lead role in terms of extending the dialogue and the discussion on how to tackle climate change, in the light of the failure of current international policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
Other events include a parliamentary session on air capture with MPs, and a panel discussion aimed at businesspeople and investors later in the week that Dr Fox will chair. Fox and Lackner will also deliver a public lecture on air capture at the IMechE.
Fox said DECC was interested in the potential of air-capture technology. “It’s gone from being taboo at the time of our report on geo-engineering to something under consideration.” He added that other organisations interested in air capture would be likely to schedule their own events for the same week, with so many of the key players in the nascent industry being in London.
- Read IMechE's position statement on Air Capture in full (pdf)
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