Artificial Trees and Reflective Buildings: New Proposals for Geoengineering the Climate

A new report, released today by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, proposes, amongst other ideas, “synthetic trees” to tackle climate change. The devices collect carbon dioxide through their ‘leaves’ and convert it to a form that can be easily stored. The devices would be thousands of times more effective at removing CO2 from the atmosphere than real trees: 100,000 would be enough to capture all of the emissions from Britain’s homes, transport and light industry, whilst 5 million could service the whole world. It is estimated that each device would cost around £12,000. The synthetic trees could be located near depleted oil and gas reserves, allowing the carbon captured to be stored underground.

Other innovations explored include painting buildings in urban areas with white, ‘smart’, paint which would reflect infra-red radiation without dazziling passers by, reducing the reliance on air-conditioners for cooling. The Institution also envisage the incorporation of ‘tubes of algae’ into the structure of buildings, providing fuel for photo bioreactors which can be used to power generators.

The Institution is lobbying Government to integrate geoengineering into plans to tackle climate change and for £10 million – £20 million to be pumped into geoengineering research.

See original article: Synthetic trees and algae can counter climate change, say engineers, Times, 27 August 2009