Faux trees convert CO2 to O2

Mar 10, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- Air is one of the few things that you really cannot do without. At least if you want to continue to live. As the population of the earth gets bigger and bigger and increasing amounts of the globe become industrialized cityscape, the quality of air is a major environmental concern. Poor air quality can lead not only to increased instances of respiratory disease, but to global issues such as acid rain, as CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise.

Fortunately, nature has given as us a way to counteract this effect. That is trees, which convert CO2 back to breathable oxygen, it is a byproduct of that helps to keep us alive. Sadly, we have been cutting down all of those trees which means as we produce more CO2, we have less to convert the gasses back with.

That is why researchers at the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy at Columbia University, led by Dr. Klaus Lackner, have designed a faux tree that is supposed to do the job of a real tree. The machine, that was designed by Dr Lackner, and Mario Caceres and Christian Canonico of Influx_Studio, is designed to pull CO2 from the air and emit oxygen instead. The project's result, called the Boston Treepod Initiative is designed to look like the dragon blood tree. The dragon blood tree was chosen because of its wide branches and umbrella style of tops that can support the larger sized that power the tree.

After a period of trial and error it was determined that the tress could not be powered by the sun alone. Instead of relying on plugs or batteries the secondary source of power will be the of humans. The groves of tree pods will be pared with hammocks and see-saws that will help to power the devices.


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More information: shiftboston.org/competitions/2011_treepods.html

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User comments : 25

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mrlewish
5 / 5 (9) Mar 10, 2011
How about you just plant more trees?
irongamer
5 / 5 (7) Mar 10, 2011
How about you just plant more trees?


Exactly what I was thinking. OMG, we are running out if CO2 scrubbers, quick let's build one that requires more energy... Come on guys.
TombSyphon2317
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 10, 2011
I with the planting of more trees.
Seriously though they could make great atmospheric control device though for closed systems. Like the space station unless Obama want to get rid of that too.
J-n
5 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2011
I guess this article was not very informative.. it's a great idea if these "trees" are able to significantly out-preform real trees in co2 removal... if not.. then real trees are the way to go...
wiyosaya
5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2011
As long as they are powered by non-polluting sources as it says in the article, I have no problems like this.

This gives the opportunity to have a CO2 scrubber in places where trees could never grow.
Badwolf
1 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2011
I think it's a great proof of concept. Maybe for use in other places where trees aren't exactly feasible - Like on the future space cruise-ships :-)
tonche
5 / 5 (5) Mar 10, 2011
Why not have Piezo electric footpaths around the trees for the extra power!
Bob_Kob
5 / 5 (2) Mar 10, 2011
After a period of trial and error it was determined that the tress could not be powered by the sun alone.


Haha, despite the fact real trees thrive on sunlight.
cmn
5 / 5 (1) Mar 10, 2011
And, what's the carbon footprint in creating these?
Nogard_Egnaro
Mar 11, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
LuckyExplorer
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
At first I fully agree, why not just plant more trees?
What about the carbon footprint... etc.

The idea might be interesting from a technology point of view, but from the ecological perspective it is pure nonsense!
They combine several relatively inefficient steps to split up CO2.
Why not use these technologies directly to generate "clean" more environmentally friendly energy.
ShotmanMaslo
5 / 5 (5) Mar 11, 2011
I with the planting of more trees.
Seriously though they could make great atmospheric control device though for closed systems. Like the space station unless Obama want to get rid of that too.


Bush intended to dump the station into the ocean before 2016. Obama extended it beyond 2020.
ereneon
not rated yet Mar 11, 2011
Don't neglect the pollution require to produce the thing. Semiconductor manufacturing (like solar panels) is notoriously polluting.
COCO
1 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2011
nothing here more taxes would not help - let us pray to our gods that this war on climate will be even half as successful as the war on terror and freedom.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Mar 11, 2011
After a period of trial and error it was determined that the tress could not be powered by the sun alone.

Haha, despite the fact real trees thrive on sunlight.
So you're saying you could grow a tree with no soil, and no water? There's a lot more to plant biology than you're aware of.
Semiconductor manufacturing (like solar panels) is notoriously polluting.
Almost everything we use has some form of semiconductor in it. I think you're referring to panel based cleaners which are NF3 based. You're talking a gross estimate of 200 tons a year, total.
El_Nose
5 / 5 (3) Mar 11, 2011
Didn't we prove a few years ago that the amazon being a carbon dioxide sink was an unverified myth.

Yes plants in general do break apart carbon dioxide into carbon and O2 when using photosynthesis to create sugars

--but when it is using sugars & ADP to produce ATP the energy carrier within cells it uses O2 either in the form of water or straight O2 from air. This is happening all the time just like animals, it takes in O2 and produces CO2-this is called respiration, just like in animals.

It was assumed that trees created more ATP than was actually needed and thus were CO2 sinks. but his was proven false... the rainforests are not creating the O2 we need to survive in suffiecient ammount to sustain life on earth. most all science sites have removed those references cause they are not true.

Turns out the plankton in the oceans are doing the heavy lifting. who knew.

~the moral of this story... don't trust science completely, its evolving all the time... As expected
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Mar 12, 2011
the moral of this story... don't trust science completely, its evolving all the time... As expected
report abuse quote send PM
No, trust the scientific method completely when executed properly. Don't trust the hearsay of individuals. Go for sources, where there isn't a source, observe to determine the truth.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 12, 2011
How about you just plant more trees?

Because trees are - over the long run - carbon neutral. As much CO2 is released when they decay as they took up over their lifetime.

These contraptions can actually be carbon negative (capturing more than was used to produce them and hand it over for sequestration or whatever else)
franco_bonafe
not rated yet Mar 12, 2011
I wonder how on Earth this freaking device works. There are many chemical reactions that can capture CO2 and many other that release O2, although not many that capture CO2 while releasing O2 back to the atmosphere just like biochemical processes do.
Plants are doing just fine. Stop screwing things up.
Steven_J_Scannell
not rated yet Mar 13, 2011
We're not properly taking care with the oceans species imbalance, and I think this will cause plankton bio-mass tonnage to drop incredibly, from a domino or cascade effect. We really need to manage the oceans for climate change mitigation.
Phyvyn
1 / 5 (1) Mar 13, 2011
The easy fix is to put all of the humans in a box. Of course eventually something will come along and destroy everything anyways.

So get out your slide-rules.

In a system of elements with a known end of a preferred state what is the probability that more analytically diverse elements that destroy slightly can prevent, delay or evolve to outlast the given system.

Remember, False means failure = no existence in non-existent temporal.

Closed systems are actually sub components of everything. So guess who is in the room with us?

What is ambient?
tadchem
not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
I am sure the artist's representations are not accidentally similar to the trees of Pandora from the 2009 movie "Avatar." Regardless of the appearance, the conversion of CO2 to metabolizable carbon compounds is *exactly* as important as the re-release of oxygen. So what of the carbon in Lackner's model?
DrSmallberries
not rated yet Mar 14, 2011
um, let's see... faux tree will cost taxpayers at least $100k per tree, OR we plant a thousand real trees at $100 each. mmm, good plan.
Evan
5 / 5 (2) Mar 16, 2011
Uhhhh... How about we just plant plant more REAL trees? Wouldn't that be more be cheaper AND more beautiful? Make them fruit trees while we're at it. O2 + Nourishment!! How about that?!

Or start using hemp for paper instead of old trees. Or maybe we should stop chopping down the rainforest for the subsidized beef industry.

...Nahhhh! That's too complicated. Let just build electronically respirating tree-bots instead.
:\
Nathan_Noll
not rated yet Mar 17, 2011
The mining/synthesis of the materials, the production of the trees, and the transport of the faux trees will no doubt have costs: It will produce CO2 and use energy/natural resources. The question is how much is this cost and do these trees really provide a net benefit? And we must consider how long it will take for these faux trees to make up for their own CO2 costs. I am sceptical that their efficiency will win against natural plants (and their photosynthetic relatives). I am a firm believer in exploratory technologies however, and the results of this research and engineering may have benefits in unforseable areas.
Tay1284
not rated yet Mar 17, 2011
I am totally with just planting more trees. It will give the same effect as these futuristic trees. Whose to say that in the future mankind won't take advantage of them, get rid of all the real trees and replace them with these new trees? There is no reason at all why we should get rid of any nature. Mother nature was here first and we shouldn't replace her with fancy technology. It just wouldn't be the same. Plus, I know I want my future generations to be able to enjoy the beauty of REAL trees, not just some knock-off technology ones. And lastly, these trees don't rely on just sunlight, but REAL trees rely a lot on sunlight.

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