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Industry, energy, transport, farming, the built environment: CO2 emissions need to be reduced in all these sectors to meet the climate targets. At least as interesting is the possibility of achieving negative emissions: CO2 can be removed from the air and stored underground using special technologies. This is a complicated process that requires a lot of energy and is very expensive, however. TNO has now developed a method that overcomes these drawbacks.
Removing CO2 from the air is important if we are to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In addition, CO2 molecules can be used as building blocks for fuels or chemicals. The petrochemical companies are interested, as they would like to use CO2 from the air to produce green and circular fuels: kerosene for aviation, for example, which currently emits some billion tonnes of CO2 a year.
TNO has developed a machine that can extract CO2 from the air. The innovation is based on a unique combination of thin film technology and mechatronics. Using current energy-guzzling technologies, capturing CO2 from the air costs around six hundred euros per tonne. The TNO method reduces the cost to approximately fifty euros. The super-thin porous film, only a few microns thick, adsorbs CO2 very effectively and requires very little energy.
Worldwide CO2 emissions in the atmosphere amount to a dizzying 35 billion tonnes a year. Ultimately, it should be possible to reduce the 400 ppm (parts per million) of CO2 in the atmosphere to the pre-industrial level of 300 ppm.
Reducing emissions, producing green hydrogen on a large scale, developing biofuels and using biomass, combined with removing CO2 from the air, will bring solutions for a sustainable energy system closer.