The climate change window closes before our eyes, and as emissions continue to rise, Stanford researchers ask us to look at the lesser of two evils.
In a new comment, the authors suggest a wild idea that would deliberately release more carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, removing an even worse greenhouse gas – methane.
Methane is the second most common greenhouse gas. It is slightly less productive than CO2, but 84 times more effective. Conversion of this agricultural and industrial by-product into more CO2 is therefore not as crazy as it may sound.
Replacement of these two gases would, of course, require the removal of industrial methane and efficient conversion technology, none of which currently exists. [1
I am very excited about this project because we have the opportunity to restore the atmosphere to its original state and give people a reason to hope for the future, "said lead author Rob Jackson in a recent interview Published video on research.
The solution would not exist on its own, but would primarily be followed by a larger, concerted effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but once the pollution is already in place and no longer in our hands, It can be extremely helpful to eliminate some of the worst offenders.
Scientists are already talking about carbon, but Stanford researchers believe that we need to focus more on methane, which is more difficult than Capture carbon (mainly because of the lower methane concentration in the atmosphere), but there s team has an idea.
A crystalline material known as zeolite has the potential to act as a sponge from the atmosphere.
"The porous molecular structure, relatively large surface area and ability to incorporate copper and iron in zeolites make them promising catalysts for the separation of methane and other gases," says co-author and chemist Ed Solomon. 
In practice, the entire apparatus would look like a giant electric fan forced air through one A series of chambers lined with zeolites or similar catalysts. After capture, the methane could be heated to form and release carbon dioxide.
To return to pre-industrial methane in this scenario, we would add more than 8 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere within a few months. Value of today's carbon emissions.
"It's not trivial, but it's not a deal breaker," said Jackson Scientific American .
Depending on its size and efficiency, such a system can be expensive. The deposition of carbon itself has often been criticized in the past as an expensive climate method.
The researchers are confident that this will not be the case with methane. If a price for CO2 can be implemented, even substantial revenue could be generated.
"A 100 mx 100 m array that processes air at a wind speed of 20 km / h and converts 20% of the methane into air could" The authors estimate that methane conversion per ton might be more expensive than negative CO2 Emissions, and potential costs and profitability remain uncertain. They amount to $ 500,000 to $ 5,000,000 a year with a capacity of 90 percent. "But it could result in a higher climate and economic value as methane is a stronger greenhouse gas."
Most scenarios Carbon removal will take decades and will not nearly restore pre-industrial values.
The idea of methane conversion seems to be extreme and carries risky unknowns, but it seems some researchers are willing to think about it.
This study was published in Nature Sustai's Ability .