Researchers propose air conditioners as climate-change remedy

airconditioning
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Scientists have an idea that could make you feel more like a green citizen than hedonist if you buy an air conditioner for your living quarters. There is a way that could use the units to fight climate change. OK, let us review the question posed by a Fast Company: What if every air conditioner was stopping climate change as it kept you cool?"

What if you could flip the process, where instead of putting in carbon from the air, carbon would be removed from the air?' Adele Peters explained why this matters: air conditioning "may use so much electricity by the middle of the century that it could push up the average global temperature by half a degree."

Here is a bit of irony that did not escape The Download writer Charlotte Jee: "Air-conditioning units are energy intensive, causing emissions that contribute to rising global temperatures (which then, ironically, cause more people to buy AC units)."

Air-conditioning units would be revisited as machines that capture carbon dioxide and transform it into fuel.

Scientific American had an especially clear summary of what the team was talking about.

"Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (or HVAC) systems move a lot of air. They can replace the entire air volume in an five or 10 times an hour. Machines that capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere—a developing fix for —also depend on moving large volumes of air. So why not save energy by tacking the carbon capture machine onto the ?"

Peters: "Modular attachments to air conditioners could pull air inside and through filters that capture CO2."

The researchers said, "It would be not that difficult technically to add a CO2 capture functionality to an A/C system, and an integrated A/C-DAC unit is expected to show favourable economics."

Once collected, water and CO2, said Jee, would be converted into renewable hydrocarbon fuels.

Richard Conniff in Scientific American referred to co-author Geoffrey Ozin claiming that much of the necessary technology was already commercially available. "Carbon capture equipment could come from a Swiss 'direct air capture' company called Climeworks, and the electrolyzers to convert carbon dioxide and water into hydrogen are available from Siemens, Hydrogenics or other companies."

Peters noted the researchers' numbers, who calculated (1) one large office tower in Frankfurt, Germany, could capture enough CO2 to produce more than 600,000 gallons of fuel in a year and (2) office buildings throughout the city could produce more than 120 million gallons. "The same process could happen on buildings everywhere."

The researchers' paper carries a fetching title, "Crowd oil not ," by Roland Dittmeyer, Michael Klumpp, Paul Kant and Geoffrey Ozin, Nature Communications.

In the abstract, the authors said they proposed "retrofitting air conditioning units as integrated, scalable, and renewable-powered devices capable of decentralized CO2 conversion and energy democratization."

As for the paper's title, in what way does the crowd element fit into their proposal?

A figure caption in their paper addressed this. "Renewable oil wells, a distributed social technology, whereby people in homes, offices and commercial buildings all around the world, collectively harvest renewable electricity and heat and use air conditioning and ventilation systems to capture CO2 and H2O from ambient air and convert it, by chemical processes, into renewable synthetic oil—crowd oil—substituting for non-renewable fossil-based oil—a step towards a circular CO2 economy."

The researchers have an envisioned model of crowd oil from solar refineries, akin to crowd electricity from solar panels. This would enable "people to take control and collectively manage global warming and climate change, rather than depending on the fossil power industrial behemoth."

Tech watchers' reactions to the plan?

"Highly speculative." "Purely theoretical." Charlotte Jee's remarks were on the ground, not the bandwagon. She said, "while it's an attractive idea [crowd oil concept], there are lots of challenges to be addressed before it could ever become a reality. It could also potentially distract from the crucial mission of reducing the level of emissions we produce in the first place."

Eric Worrall in watts up with that? was not rating this concept as bright idea of the year. "Turning every high-rise residential or office building air conditioner into a miniature flammable petroleum refinery which vents electrolysis oxygen. What could possibly go wrong?"

The authors appeared to acknowledge the paper encompassed discussions of CO2 reduction, while future fuller analysis would be needed.

"The preliminary analysis presented above demonstrates the potential of capturing CO2 from air conditioning systems in buildings, for making a substantial amount of liquid hydrocarbon fuels. While the analysis considers the CO2 reduction potential, carbon efficiency and overall energy efficiency, it does not touch on spatial, or economic metrics for the requisite systems. These have to be obtained from a full techno-economic and life cycle analysis of the entire system."


Explore further

Renewables are a better investment than carbon capture for tackling climate change

More information: Roland Dittmeyer et al. Crowd oil not crude oil, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09685-x
Journal information: Nature Communications

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Citation: Researchers propose air conditioners as climate-change remedy (2019, May 3) retrieved 20 June 2019 from https://techxplore.com/news/2019-05-air-conditioners-climate-change-remedy.html
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May 03, 2019
Articles like this prove over and over again that physics and reality are not part of the green movement. They just prove that a proposal to power the nation with Unicorn dung could gain widespread support.

May 03, 2019
Aircon is the perfect system to be driven by solar electricity. Combined with good insulation it should not create a significant burden on generation capacity

May 03, 2019
"physics and reality are not part of the green movement"


Go buy a Tesla and you can learn a ton about physics and reality. Electromagnetism, electrochemistry, kinetics, aerodynamics, centripetal force, friction, etc.

May 03, 2019
Go buy a Tesla and you can learn a ton about physics and reality. Electromagnetism, electrochemistry, kinetics, aerodynamics, centripetal force, friction, etc.


And lithium toxicity in food and water from the deposition of used lithium batteries, and environmental deposition of refuse and toxic compounds in vehicles from the eventual retirement of the Tesla, and air, food, and water deposition of toxins from the refuse of Tesla manufacturing plants, and moving the goal post from nuclear and coal-fired power plants into the battery. And somehow you can learn all of this just by spending money.

May 03, 2019
MT Tesla is a prime example of a green idea that is not really practical at this point in time. It is a great 3rd car for the rich however.

May 03, 2019
This article also proves that there is way too much government money chasing way too few good ideas.

May 03, 2019
Capturing CO2 is energy intensive because the chemistry is energy intensive.

May 04, 2019
Why don't we do that on power plant vents? With the larger production and more concentrated CO2 mixture (around 20% by volume in exhaust gases) it should be easier and more efficient than capturing CO2 from air.

May 04, 2019
"Why don't we do that on power plant vents? With the larger production and more concentrated CO2 mixture (around 20% by volume in exhaust gases) it should be easier and more efficient than capturing CO2 from air."

That would make sense except for the fact that the whole movement is based on fantasy and economic realities never enter into the picture.

May 04, 2019
im hugely pro electric, but even the germans have been forced to publiciize a long time known FACT but never promoted. electric battery production is so carbon intensive it makes electric cars more carbon emitting than equivalent non electrics. this ha been obvious but the lie is maintained that they are a panacea because it makes people money ehrn you create a fake problem ( apocolyptically IMMANENT extreme warming ) and a fake solution (electric everything and -decarbonizing as the buzzword).

worship.

May 04, 2019
electric battery production is so carbon intensive it makes electric cars more carbon emitting than equivalent non electrics
No it does not. https://cleantech...ns-myth/
The studies being thrown around - only look at the manufacturing process - and not the carbon savings of actually driving the car.
The truth of the matter is that electric cars pollute far less than conventional cars over their lifetime

May 04, 2019
CO2 reduction by CH4 production?

May 04, 2019
You guys have a quite interesting way to combat climate change. Here's my take: There is a way to use sunlight to make an air conditioner system. By using the sun to evaporate water, hence, cooling the body of water. Cold water sink at the bottom of the body of water, where it can be circulated to cool a room. This design already exist commercially where the clients are big hotel. I believe that it can be adapted to small client. The main advantage is that it saves electrical energy hence less carbon is emitted in the atmosphere.

May 05, 2019
If we all gave up eating beef and lamb, the resulting freeing up of useful space for nature to act against the CO2 (instead if making cattle food and its wasteful consumption and the resulting harmful methane waste gas from these animals), would solve this problem much more efficiently that by using more energy to turn the CO2 back into fuel. It may be technically possible but ridiculously costly.

May 05, 2019
Can't even get Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio to give up flying on small private jets, and vacationing on huge mega-polluting private yachts. Clearly, all this talk about the end drawing near is BS, eh?

May 05, 2019
It's perplexing that this article chooses to a pull a quote from "watts up with that?" which is a climate change denial blog from what I can see. Please relegate such people and sources to the the dumpsters. They're as corrosive and ignorant as the racists they tend to be. Including them in articles is poor journalism.

May 06, 2019
"It's perplexing that this article chooses to a pull a quote from "watts up with that?" which is a climate change denial blog from what I can see. "

When someone who thinks they are "enlightened" uses terms like climate change denial blog for "watts up with that?" you can be sure that they know little about real science and how it works. They have been indoctrinated and do not wish to question their programming.

May 06, 2019
Wonder who is funding this research. Anyone who understands the Urban Heat Island effect within the context of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions knows that this is as pie-in-the-sky as you can get. If people are ready to accept this research as well-founded, maybe they are also ready to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

May 07, 2019
Thermodynamic laws will prevent this idea to be feasible. The added compressors to the A/C will consume an energy that must be generated with the corresponding CO2 increase. It is Zero-sum issue. No net gain in CO2 reduction, only a huge increase in the electric bill the user will have to pay. Scientists (?) will, however, keep cashing their salary checks every month for an absurd idea.

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