Balancing the Carbon Cycle: Finding Solutions with Technology
Part A: Carbon Reduction Technology: It All Starts with an Idea!
What is carbon reduction technology?There are two basic strategies in carbon reduction technology:
1. Develop technology that reduces the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere.
2. Develop technology that removes carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.
Reducing atmospheric CO2is indeed a complex problem - one that will most likely need many different strategies and technologies. For example, consider the image above. The wind turbines reduce carbon dioxide emissions by providing an energy source that does not burn fossil fuels. The artificial trees, a new emerging technology, would remove carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. Wind farms have been around for a long time and are familiar on many landscapes. Where did the idea of artificial trees come from? Like any technological design, artificial trees began with good observations and an idea. The hard work begins when trying to turn the idea into a design that works.
Emerging Carbon Reduction Technology: Artificial TreesWatch how a middle school student's idea leads to a technological design for artificial (synthetic) trees in this NovaScienceNow video: Carbon Capture As you watch the video, take notes on the questions below. Your teacher may assign a specific question to your group.
- What was the initial idea?
- How does the design work to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
- As the designers moved from the initial idea to a development phase, what worked and what didn't? Did the design change in anyway?
- Was the design process finished by the end of the video, or was the design still in the development phase?
- Was there an energy penalty for this design? In other words, was the amount of carbon dioxide reduction greater or less than the amount of energy needed to run the process and/or create the product?
- What's the cost?
Discussion:In your group or class, discuss the answers to the questions above. Then, identify and discuss any pros or cons that might be associated with the technology of "artificial trees." Is this just an interesting idea, or is it a solution that could actually help to reduce atmospheric CO2? What do you think?
Current carbon reduction technology: Carbon capture and sequestration(storage)
DiscussionWith a partner or a group, identify two carbon capture technologies from the interactive that have the best potential to be viable solutions for carbon reduction. Explain why you have chosen them
Visionary Carbon Reduction Technology: Algae Towers
Read about and see a slideshow on architects' visions to create carbon reducing Algae Towers
Do you think you will experience this technology in your life time?
Stop and Think
1. Identify five types of pros(potential benefits) and cons(potential drawbacks) you might look for if your were asked to evaluate a new emerging carbon reduction technology. You may want to consider putting these in question format.
Now you are ready apply your understanding of current, emerging and even visionary technology. In Lab 8B, you will take on the role of a blogger who has been asked to identify and evaluate a promising carbon reduction technology. Good luck!