WBEZ | carbon emissions http://www.wbez.org/tags/carbon-emissions Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Is an artificial tree part of the solution to climate change? http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/chemtree.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Here&#39;s the skinny: CO2 traps heat. There&rsquo;s about 40 percent&nbsp;more of it in the atmosphere today than there was in the millennia of human history before the Industrial Revolution, and that number is rising fast, since we just can&rsquo;t seem to curb our thirst for fossil fuels.</p><p>So what if there were a simple solution? What if we had a way to suck that excess&nbsp;CO2 right back out of the sky?</p><p>Well, actually, we do, says&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chbe.gatech.edu/faculty/jones" target="_blank">Chris Jones</a>, a chemical engineer at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.</p><p>&ldquo;These are our best ways of capturing CO2 from the air,&rdquo; Jones says as he walks under a canopy of trees on the school&rsquo;s campus. &ldquo;Trees evolved over millions of years to do this very efficiently.&rdquo;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_2101b%20crop.jpg?itok=cbzXoNg1" style="height: 333px; width: 500px;" title="Physicist Klaus Lackner stands beside a miniature greenhouse in his lab at ASU's Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, in which he's testing out the properties of his &quot;artificial tree. Lackner says he expects a square mile of artificial trees could suck as much as ten million tons of CO2 a year out of the atmosphere.(PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>Thing is, we just don&rsquo;t have enough trees to fix our CO2 problem. In fact, the earth has fewer acres of trees every year. But Jones says that even if we planted trees everywhere we could, they still wouldn&rsquo;t be able to pull enough CO2 out of the air to offset our emissions.</p><p>Which for Jones means one thing. &ldquo;We have to come up with a chemical tree that can effectively extract CO2 out of the air,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>Essentially mimic nature, only do her one better. The technical name for the idea is direct air capture. And it is a tall order &mdash; to improve on trees, which have been honed by millions of years of evolution. In fact, some say the technology will never be efficient or cheap enough. To which Jones and some of his colleagues reply, that&rsquo;s ridiculous.</p><p>&ldquo;People in the past said heavier than air flight is impossible, and all you needed to do is look at a bird and you know that&rsquo;s wrong,&rdquo; says&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/klaus-lackner/" target="_blank">Klaus Lackner</a>, the director of the&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/" target="_blank">Center for Negative Carbon Emissions</a>&nbsp;at Arizona State University in Tempe.</p><p>&ldquo;Capture from air is not impossible. All you need to do is look at a tree and you know it&rsquo;s possible.&rdquo;</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Prototypes and pasta cutters</span></strong></p><p>Chris Jones&rsquo; approach to the challenge is a ceramic cube about half the size of a loaf of bread and almost as light, hollowed out by hundreds of tiny square tunnels. If you hold it up to the light, you can see through it.</p><p>&ldquo;All of us who own a car own one of these,&rdquo; Jones says. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re in the catalytic converter in our car. Normally, these are used to clean up the exhaust coming out of our engine.&rdquo;</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/xIMG_3930b.JPG?itok=7NI6Mj6W" style="float: left; height: 224px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="The artificial trees Georgia Tech chemical engineer Chris Jones is working on look nothing like actual trees. They're ceramic cubes full of tiny corridors, similar to the catalytic converter of a car, but coated with a material that absorbs carbon dioxide instead of carbon monoxide. (PRI/Ari Daniel)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>The ones in our cars are designed to hold onto pollutants like carbon monoxide. The tunnels of Jones&rsquo;s cube are coated with a material his team has developed that grabs onto carbon dioxide. As air flows through it, the lattice gradually fills up with CO2.</p><p>Jones has a pilot plant in California where he has 600 of these bricks stacked together into a block about the size of a semi-tractor trailer stood up on its end. The system uses fans to blow air onto the bricks, and steam to remove the captured CO2 so the bricks can be reused. The prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>By itself, that&rsquo;s an inconsequential amount. But it is a start. Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s group at Arizona State is taking a different approach. It starts with a cream-colored piece of fabric that Lackner&rsquo;s colleague&nbsp;<a href="http://engineering.asu.edu/cnce/allen-wright/" target="_blank">Allen Wright</a>&nbsp;describes as almost &ldquo;leathery &hellip; kind of like a very, very dense sponge.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a material that bonds with CO2, and is usually used to purify liquids like wine and beer. Wright and Lackner used a pasta cutter to cut some of the fabric into thin strips &mdash; angel hair size &mdash; then wove the ribbons into a central rod. What they ended up with looks like a duster.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/961646068%281%29.jpg?itok=o-b9CF4X" style="float: right; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; height: 450px;" title="This pilot plant in California holds 600 of Jones's bricks. He says the prototype sucks down about 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. (Global Thermostat)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div><p>&ldquo;These are nature-inspired shapes &mdash; pine-tree looking pieces,&rdquo; Lackner says, &ldquo;where contact with the wind is very, very natural.&rdquo;</p><p>Lackner says the eventual goal is to build devices much like a tree that would stand passively in the wind and absorb CO2 as the air blows over them.</p><p>No fans are necessary with their approach.</p><p>The material sheds the CO2 when it gets wet, so Lackner and his colleagues have also been working on ways to discharge the gas so it can be stored or reused later.</p><p>He says a full-scale version of the system &mdash; one with tree-like structures spaced out like a forest &mdash; is still 20 or 30 years away, but that initial results show real promise. Eventually, he believes, a square mile of artificial trees could suck up as much as ten million tons of CO2 per year.</p><p>That&rsquo;s still a far cry from the 1.5 trillion tons or so that we need to take out of the air to reset our atmosphere, but again, it is a start.</p><p>And lots of other people around the world are barking up the same artificial tree.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:14px;">Daring to dream</span></strong></p><p>The biggest hurdle right now is engineering these and other materials so they can grab enough CO2.</p><p>&ldquo;The technical challenge&rdquo; says Chris Jones at Georgia Tech, is &ldquo;to make it more efficient and optimize the process so that we can reduce the overall costs.&rdquo;</p><p>Jones says it&rsquo;s his job to get the cost down to the point where policymakers have no choice but to say yes to the technology.</p><p>That could take a long time &mdash; remember Klaus Lackner&rsquo;s estimate of 20 to 30 years to perfect his artificial tree.</p><p>But Lackner says costs are likely to fall dramatically. He points to the examples of wind turbines, which are 40 times cheaper today than 50 years ago, and photovoltaic panels, which are 100 times cheaper than they were half a century ago.</p><p>The first step was to show that direct air capture of CO2 was possible, and that&rsquo;s been done.</p><p>&ldquo;We can reverse the CO2 concentration in the air,&rdquo; Lackner says. &ldquo;We cannot reverse the melting of a glacier. We&rsquo;re already way too late. But we will do it.&rdquo;</p><p>And the carbon dioxide will be waiting for us when we do.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><em>&mdash;<a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-08-30/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-these-guys-think-so" target="_blank">The World</a></em></p></p> Sun, 30 Aug 2015 08:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-08-31/artificial-tree-part-solution-climate-change-112776 Indiana rails against President Obama’s power plant requirement http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-04/indiana-rails-against-president-obama%E2%80%99s-power-plant-requirement <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/power plant FlickrDave Emerson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana&rsquo;s republican Governor isn&rsquo;t too thrilled about President Barack Obama&rsquo;s new plan plan to cut carbon emissions nationwide 32 percent by 2030. The President says the Clean Energy Plan he announced Monday is a bold step to slow climate change, but opponents like Indiana Governor Mike Pence says it&rsquo;s federal overreach that will raise prices for electricity consumers. As a result, Pence is joining about a dozen other states in legally challenging Obama&rsquo;s power plant requirements in court. WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter Michael Puente joins us.</p></p> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-04/indiana-rails-against-president-obama%E2%80%99s-power-plant-requirement Traffic congestion's carbon footprint http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/traffic-congestions-carbon-footprint-105367 <p><p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/carusophoto/4017256834/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/traffic-by-john-caruso-via-flickr.jpg" title="Traffic on I-94 from the Van Buren street bridge. (John Caruso via Flickr)" /></a></p><p>Traffic congestion produced 56 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO<sub>2</sub>) pollution in 2011 &mdash; roughly equivalent to the emissions from the electricity use of 3.8 million homes for one year &mdash; according to the Texas A&amp;M Transportation Institute&rsquo;s <a href="http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/">Urban Mobility Report</a> released Tuesday.</p><p>While the report&rsquo;s main innovation was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/report-chicago-traffic-bad-leave-early-105360">a new metric that predicted the unpredictably of metro area traffic</a>, it also included for the first time an estimate of the additional CO<sub>2</sub> emissions attributed to traffic congestion. That does not include emissions from cars traveling when roadways are uncongested.</p><p>Transportation is responsible for roughly one third of U.S. carbon emissions, making it the second largest-emitting sector (behind electricity generation). Worldwide transportation represents <a href="http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090727080836.htm">20 percent</a> of total energy consumption.</p><p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CEAQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.uctc.net%2Faccess%2F35%2Faccess35_Traffic_Congestion_and_Grenhouse_Gases.shtml&amp;ei=pasRUbSzLO7xyAHCnIH4Cg&amp;usg=AFQjCNH6HMuR6qigf7k9-9XQbAVN5T1IIA&amp;sig2=FlwgZ9weMMItgkzxSXWgLQ&amp;bvm=bv.41934586,d.aWc">It is difficult to measure</a> congestion&rsquo;s contribution to national carbon emissions &mdash; estimates are sensitive to highly variable factors like driving behavior, vehicle and roadway types, and local traffic conditions &mdash;but the report&rsquo;s stab at quantifying the issue could help further visualize a largely ignored pollution problem.</p><p>Noted climate scientist <a href="http://www3.geosc.psu.edu/people/faculty/personalpages/ralley/">Richard Alley</a> has pointed out that if the roughly 1 pound of CO<sub>2</sub> per mile that cars emit were &ldquo;horse ploppies,&rdquo; instead of invisible gas, every road in the country would be underneath an inch of poop within one year.</p><p>&ldquo;Fuel wasted in congested traffic reached a total of 2.9 billion gallons &mdash; enough to fill the New Orleans Superdome four times,&rdquo; the report reads. That is the same as in 2010, but less than the 3.2 billion gallons wasted in 2005.</p><p>There are a few key ways to improve the fuel efficiency of cars. Scientists and engineers are working on lighter vehicles, more efficient engines, and engines that run on alternative fuels. But advocates of policy solutions say just changing driving patterns can also have a significant impact.</p><p>The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning touts <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/congestion-pricing">congestion pricing</a> as one such intervention, citing <a href="http://www.cmap.illinois.gov/policy-updates/-/blogs/economic-impacts-of-express-toll-lanes-in-the-chicago-region">long-term economic impacts</a> to boot &mdash; CMAP&rsquo;s Jesse Elam <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2013-02-05/afternoon-shift-road-rage-105356">talked about their plan on The Afternoon Shift</a>.</p><p>Research out of the <a href="http://www.uctc.net/papers/846.pdf">University of California at Riverside</a>, which has its fair share of traffic, found metering ramp entry, lowering average driving speeds to 55 mph and reducing traffic congestion through variable speed limits could each potentially lower CO<sub>2</sub> emissions 7 to 12 percent. The combined effects of one or more of these changes could be greater, their report said.</p><p>&ldquo;Including CO<sub>2</sub>&nbsp;emissions into the [Urban Mobility Report] provides another dimension to the urban congestion problem,&rdquo; said researcher and co-author David Schrank in <a href="http://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/media-information/press-release/">a press release</a>.&nbsp; &ldquo;It points to the importance of implementing transportation improvements to reduce congestion.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Researchers said they plan to include more metrics of air quality in future reports.</p></p> Wed, 06 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/traffic-congestions-carbon-footprint-105367 Evanston wins environment award, but struggles to reach emissions goal http://www.wbez.org/story/evanston-wins-environment-award-struggles-reach-emissions-goal-88019 <p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.7931971771176904" style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">The City of Evanston Friday won the 2011 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards for small-city competitors at the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference in Baltimore. The conference recognized the northern suburb of Chicago for its aggressive </span><a href="http://www.cityofevanston.org/news/2010/09/evanston-climate-action-plan-annual-report-now-online/"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 153); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">Climate Action Plan</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">, which was adopted by Evanston’s City Council in 2008 as a roadmap to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Evanston is one of 1,053 signatories to </span><a href="http://www.usmayors.org/climateprotection/documents/mcpAgreement.pdf"><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 153); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">The U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement</span></a><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">. Cities that sign on to the agreement are striving to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. For Evanston, that meant reducing its carbon emissions by 13 percent.</span></p><div style="background-color: transparent; margin-top: 0px; margin-left: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-right: 0px; "><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">“It’s an affirmation that all the work that all the work our citizens and city staff have done to reduce our carbon footprint has been worth it, and we’re on track the right track,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. Tisdahl spoke by phone from the conference in Baltimore on Friday after accepting the award. But, she added, “There’s a lot of work still to do.”</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">Tisdahl said that while the city has reduced overall energy usage by 2 percent, and has cut carbon emissions from municipal operations by 22 percent, she was “surprised and upset” to learn that gasoline consumption in Evanston has risen. According to the city’s Office of Sustainability, the amount of gasoline sold in the city has jumped 32 percent since 2005, for reasons not yet known. The office estimates greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector by tracking gasoline sales.</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">While Evanston’s governing apparatus has reduced its own carbon footprint, that still accounts for only a small portion of the city’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Tisdahl says it’s unlikely that Evanston will meet its 13 percent goal within the next six months, but she still believes that it can meet that goal — eventually. “We’d need some big things like wind turbines in the lake, or some of our major plans would have to come to fruition.”</span><br> <br> <span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); background-color: transparent; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; ">A committee will present more information about Evanston’s options with wind turbines to the City Council on Monday.</span></div></p> Sat, 18 Jun 2011 10:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/evanston-wins-environment-award-struggles-reach-emissions-goal-88019 The future of Illinois cap-and-trade after Chicago Climate Exchange http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/future-illinois-cap-and-trade-after-chicago-climate-exchange <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//carbon trade.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The recent announcement that the Chicago Climate Exchange will soon cease its carbon trading system saddened some environmentalists. At one point, members did a fair bit of business, voluntarily buying and selling carbon emissions, metric tons of&nbsp; CO<sub>2</sub>, as commodities.</p> <p>But when a proposed federal cap-and-trade program stalled in the Senate, the market for carbon died down as well.</p><p>Under cap-and-trade, companies and other entities face limits on how much greenhouse gases they can emit. If they go over their limit they can purchase carbon credits from businesses which pollute less. But cap-and-trade isn&rsquo;t dead yet! There&rsquo;s talk of a new market that would include over 10 U.S. states and some Canadian provinces as well. <br />&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; got an update on North America&rsquo;s shifting cap-and-trade market from <a target="_blank" href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/search/dispatcher.front?Query=Michael+Hawthorne&amp;target=article&amp;sortby=display_time+descending">Michael Hawthorne</a>.&nbsp; Hawthorne reports on the environment for the Chicago Tribune.</p></p> Tue, 07 Dec 2010 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/future-illinois-cap-and-trade-after-chicago-climate-exchange