Jennifer Wilcox: A new way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
Jennifer Wilcox works on ways to test and measure methods of trace metal and carbon capture, to mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on our planet. Full bio
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of CO2 in the air today.
of oxygen and nitrogen.
there are about 1,800 of us.
was wearing a green shirt,
that single person.
when capturing CO2
about is going back;
it's actually possible to do this.
where this technology is at
in the near future.
removes CO2 from the air
are doing the invaluable work
we have the technology today
as a synthetic forest.
to growing or building such a forest.
dissolved in water.
with CO2-grabbing chemicals.
they basically look the same.
is what a system might look like
really, really wide
a high enough surface area
just 400 molecules out of a million.
approach to do this,
with the packing material,
across the packing material,
as you can see in the front,
is separated from the liquid
CO2 molecules in solution.
you make that contactor,
on bubbling all that air through.
have this unique characteristic design,
but a relatively thin thickness.
that material that you used to capture it,
must be sustainable,
an enormous amount of heat,
CO2 is so dilute in the air,
in order to recycle the material.
with that heat,
that you got from dilute CO2 in the air
is easier to liquify,
it's in a pipeline or a truck,
about that energy.
or recycle these materials
and the subsequent cost of doing this.
of CO2 from the air
to capture CO2 directly from the air.
of 300 to 500 megawatts.
what kind of power plant you choose.
than you capture.
of this technology
as $1,000 a ton
CO2 and convert it to a liquid fuel,
it's not feasible.
a commercial-scale company,
as 600 dollars a ton.
that are developing technologies
approach for separation
super-abundant, cheap natural gas
the CO2 from the air
from burning the natural gas.
and they reduce costs.
and US-based Global Thermostat
from other industrial processes
takes a different approach.
through the material
and produce that CO2
a more compact design
advantage over a real forest: size.
is a map of the Amazon rainforest.
1.6 billion tons of CO2 each year.
of roughly 25 percent
for a synthetic forest
with farmland or food,
to have to cut down any real trees
of negative emissions again.
that the CO2 separated
from the atmosphere forever,
gets paid to do that today --
out of it, a marketable product.
these carbon markets are great.
to be disillusioned.
to solve our climate crisis,
is we need to actually think about
is positive about the carbon markets
capture plants to be built,
to bring costs down.
and technology in the world,
to have a significant impact on climate.
absolutely be willing to pay more,
the majority of society
in research and development.
a half a percent of gross domestic product
is about 100 billion dollars.
against climate change,
20 percent, 20 billion dollars.
that we could get the costs down
but it's part of what makes my job fun.
200 synthetic forests,
a million tons of CO2 per year.
of US annual emissions.
associated with long-haul trucking
makes these emissions
could absolutely be significant.
in terms of land area to do this,
about half the land area of Vancouver.
of natural gas -- it also emits CO2.
to do direct air capture,
about a third of what's intended,
clever approach of co-capture
about 15 times larger,
in my work and my research
where we should put these plants
the local resources available --
cheap and clean electricity --
you can use clean electricity
replacement for natural gas,
again on negative emissions.
considered a silver bullet,
if we continue to stall
that it can even be risky,
of total solution to our climate crisis.
to burn fossil fuels 24 hours a day,
see negative emissions
portfolio that includes everything,
to net-zero emissions one day.
by the lifesaving work
do each and every day.
about my work on carbon capture,
climate change by capturing carbon
as pretty as a real one,
to preserve not only the Amazon,
ABOUT THE SPEAKERJennifer Wilcox - Chemical engineer
Jennifer Wilcox works on ways to test and measure methods of trace metal and carbon capture, to mitigate the effects of fossil fuels on our planet.
Why you should listen
Jennifer Wilcox is the James H. Manning Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Having grown up in rural Maine, she has a profound respect and appreciation of nature, which permeates her work as she focuses on minimizing negative impacts of humankind on our natural environment.
Wilcox's research takes aim at the nexus of energy and the environment, developing both mitigation and adaptation strategies to minimize negative climate impacts associated with society's dependence on fossil fuels. This work carefully examines the role of carbon management and opportunities therein that could assist in preventing 2° C warming by 2100. Carbon management includes a mix of technologies spanning from the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to its capture from industrial, utility-scale and micro-emitter (motor vehicle) exhaust streams, followed by utilization or reliable storage of carbon dioxide on a timescale and magnitude that will have a positive impact on our current climate change crisis. Funding for her research is primarily sourced through the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and the private sector. She has served on a number of committees including the National Academy of Sciences and the American Physical Society to assess carbon capture methods and impacts on climate. She is the author of the first textbook on carbon capture, published in March 2012.
Jennifer Wilcox | Speaker | TED.com