The eradication of carbon emissions is a common purpose for an important part of the countries of the world. It is quite a challenge, considering how complex is the dynamics under which the planet moves.
In those industries or areas in which these emissions cannot be eliminated, they will be applied – depending on each legislation in particular – imposed by this concept or, to avoid this situation, the implementation of air filters will be required.
The current offer of solutions for these cases involves high costs. However, a new alternative looms on the horizon, hand in hand with the startup High Hopes.
The proposal is really striking. Using a mechanism specially designed for this task, they can process air for a cost of $ 100 per ton. For reference, other companies offer this service for rates ranging from $ 600 to $ 1,000 per ton.
The High Hopes system is based on the use of hot air balloons, like the ones Google used in its now-defunct Loon project. To accomplish their task, energy-efficient carbon capture platforms are installed on balloons that soar at high altitudes, to heights where it is feasible for them to work more efficiently. This mechanism then fills its pressure tanks with dry ice, to bring them back to the surface. As soon as the temperature rises, the dry ice will turn back to CO2 in a gaseous state, pressurized thanks to the restricted volume of the tanks, in a format ready for further treatment.
This is a basic process within the changes of state of matter, called cryodistillation. By performing this process at high altitudes, the entire process involved is physically lighter.
For a large-scale deployment, the team is considering the Sub-Saharan Africa region for its optimal air conditions, its proximity to the equator, and its minimal impact on air traffic. Despite these criteria of choice for the first deployment, from High Hopes they affirm that this system can work from any latitude.
As safety considerations, the altitude above the clouds was considered, to prevent the equipment from being hit by lightning and, incidentally, being exposed to an explosion due to the high flammability of hydrogen. In addition, climatic factors specific to the area reduce the probability of this type of accident or others related to contact with rain, which, despite being unlikely, is a scenario to which High Hopes affirms that it can react.
The next steps of this project are focused on expanding this initiative. Greater processing capacity and a wider coverage area are goals that are in the sights of this startup from Israel.
In countries like Sweden, taxes are already being applied for carbon emissions. It is a pioneering case, but the projections generally indicate that the trend of global policies is heading there. Those industries that cannot apply a “green seal” to their processes from the source, will have to implement solutions that directly impact the consequences they generate. This solution takes a step forward towards that increasingly near future.