A lot is being said in the science-based news lately about carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, the cause and effects of such levels, and what can and must be done to stop emissions from pushing this measurement ever higher. But not much is being said about how to actually remove excess carbon from the air. Or, at least, not much is being said publicly about it. Yet the other day I came across this little tidbit:
Algae Lamp Absorbs 200-Times More Carbon Dioxide Than Trees, Doesn’t Require Electricity
A French biochemist has developed a self-sustainable lamp that runs on a specific kind of algae and a little bit of sunlight. During the day, the algae feeds off the CO2 in the air, producing energy that gets stored in a battery, which then operates the light in the lamp during night time hours. Sunlight apparently isn’t even required for the reaction, as the algae can also feed directly on the carbon itself, so the lamps can even be effective underground or otherwise away from natural sunlight. And what’s the other byproduct of the algae’s work? Oxygen.
A single one of these lamps is apparently capable of removing one ton of CO2 from the air per year. This is more efficient than forests, and these lamps can be placed in targeted areas where carbon emissions are most severe, like crowded highways and underground garages. But they can also easily be placed in homes and other public places, allowing the air to constantly be cleansed.
To me, this is the latest development in a not-well-publicized field of development that I first read about years ago. The two biggest ideas I remember hearing along the lines of carbon removal from the atmosphere were genetically modified trees that will process more CO2 than normal ones, and gigantic CO2 filters hovering in parts of the atmosphere that will continually filter CO2 as a mechanical device. A quick Google search yields articles such as this from 2006 and this from 2010 that both suggest genetically modified trees show promise but not very good promise. Similarly, this article about carbon capturing suggests that the costs for doing so have been greatly underestimated, and also raises the problem of what to do with all the captured carbon in the first place. Indeed, these possibilities don’t seem to be going anywhere.
Yet, this algae project shows significantly more promise. Small scale, cheap to build and maintain, completely energy neutral, and way more efficient than normal forests, this lamp almost seems like a miracle answer to local-scale carbon dioxide levels. I think of places like neo-industrial revolution China, where the air quality has gotten so poor that only 27 out of 113 key cities have satisfied air quality standards. Imagine every street in a crowded factory town lined with these lamps, however. Just how much could that help? One ton of CO2 removal per year per lamp, that’s how much. If China–or any other country–wants to really do something about CO2 levels in places where it actually affects people, maybe they should seriously look into these lamps.
[…] Algae Lamp Absorbs 200 More CO2 than a Tree […]
I love this article, thank you for sharing it with us!
My pleasure, thank you for reading! I do hope we actually get to see these lamps around sometime soon. I find them aesthetically pleasing on top of their environmental effects….good for the world and good lookin’!
No kidding! I think setting this up in a larger scale than a concept would be a great step toward preserving our environment, even if it only reduces CO2 in the atmosphere by a small extent.