A maverick’s tireless fight against greenhouse gases

Mar 04, 2019, 5:48 AM EST
Particle Physicist Klaus Lackner
(Source: https://cnce.engineering.asu.edu/klaus-lackner/

If Klaus Lackner has his way, we could see a whole congregation of simple machines strewn across the countryside for sucking atmospheric carbon dioxide and storing and dispatching the greenhouse gas for a variety of end uses.

Lackner, who has worked as a particle physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, was seen as a maverick when he first proposed the idea in 1999, notes MIT Technology Review. The skepticism has faded to a great extent since then as the world grapples with increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

In fact, Lackner’s two decades of quest to develop such a technology and to say with conviction that the model can be scaled to save the planet has instilled startups with the courage to dabble with the idea.

The technology of direct-air-capture devices raises some reasonable questions, primarily over the costs involved and who will be the funders. In plain words, the best weapon for removal of greenhouse gases has been forestation, but that will require huge swathes of land eventually compromising food production.

This is where direct-air-capture devices score over planting trees as they don’t eat up land. Currently, they capture a ton of carbon dioxide for $600, which needs to be brought down if this approach has to work to the tunes of current climate crisis.