A chemistry professor at George Washington University in Washington, DC has come up with a process for sucking carbon out of the atmosphere and converting it into nanofibres, which can then be turned into composites suitable for sports equipment, building materials, and airliners.
“We’re very excited about this because carbon nanofibres are a very valued product,” Prof. Stuart Licht told Greentech. He said the process could create “an impetus for bringing down carbon dioxide levels in the air.”
Carbon nanofibres currently sell for about US$25,000 per ton, but Licht believes his process could cut that price tag to US$1,000.
“If it comes to fruition, this work would not only increase the affordability of carbon composites, but it could also have a huge impact on climate change mitigation,” Pyper writes. “According to Licht, an area less than 10% the size of the Sahara Desert would be sufficient to bring the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere down to pre-industrial levels within 10 years.”
But she warns that “scalability has proven to be an enormous challenge for all carbon capture technologies. Researchers have been working for years on innovative ways to pull carbon from the air and sequester it safely, like in concrete. But these technologies have yet to prove economically viable.”