Air conditioners are a breezy balm in the hot and sticky suffocation of summers. The need for them is only rising day by day due to climate change. But researchers say that these energy hogs can be used to help save the planet instead of destroying it. They propose the lowering of atmospheric CO2 and provide fuels using air conditioners. You must be wondering, Is this even possible? Can the air conditioners really be used to put energy in the hands of people? Can it really make the environment a little better?
Scientists of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology intend to modify the Ac system for the purpose of conversion. This tech would absorb CO2 and water from the air and in the next step, an electric current would split water and air. Combining hydrogen with the captured carbon-dioxide will produce hydrocarbon fuel. Also, by doing this we are weaponizing air conditioners to pull out CO2 from the air making it pollution free.
Although these are all theoretical for now, the technologies required for this already exists. Germany and the US have commercialized technologies that separately captures CO2 from air and hydrogen from water. But, the one thing they are lacking is one complete system that puts all the pieces together.
According to researchers downtown Frankfurt and Main in Germany could produce 550 to 1,100 pounds of hydrocarbon fuels every hour or around 2,200 to 44,00 tons per year. With the largest office space, five cities in Germany together could produce 2.6 to 5.3 million tons of fuel each year. Grocery shops found nearby could capture 386 tons of CO2 per year which is 8% of Germany’s total consumption of diesel.
Challenges faced by researchers:
You are intrigued after reading this, aren’t you? Yet, there are many challenges researchers face to achieve the goal. Amongst them, the storage of the accumulated fuel takes the first position as a challenge. To make the process carbon neutral, air conditioners need to be powered with solar energy, as burning synthetic fuel would also produce emissions. And, this transformation won’t happen overnight. If the output is greater, pipelines also need to be built to ferry that fuel around for use in industry.
We can definitely reduce the amount of carbon dioxide from our atmosphere, but this concept is not yet practical in use. There is a long way to go! Researchers need to calculate the economics and the space needed to scale up the technology. To analyze long term reliability and stability engineers are needed. With time and investment, they’ll surely achieve this goal soon.