What we are reading 👀

Air Conditioners that capture carbon dioxide and crowd-source oil...are we dreaming?!

What We Are Reading: Air Conditioners that capture carbon dioxide and crowd-source oil... Are We Dreaming?! 😃🛢

We have been reading about a technology that allows air conditions to capture carbon while they are cooling our spaces and convert it back into oil that can then be reused or stored for later…wow!  

You may already know that minimizing refrigerant emissions has the potential to be one of the most significant contributors to reducing the adverse effects of climate change. Researchers at the University of Toronto are working on a clever way to harness these machines to make a positive contribution beyond conditioning our indoor spaces. They are retrofitting existing air conditioning units to capture carbon dioxide.  Their work is inspired, in part, by their understanding that although renewable energies will help ameliorate greenhouse gas emissions, the transition on its own to these sources will not be fast enough. Those efforts need supplementation, and these scientists have the novel idea of retrofitting existing air conditioning systems to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) and water from the air. These compounds would then be transformed into oil that can be crowd-sourced and even reused at the local level.

As with refrigerants of all kinds, the biggest challenge with air conditioners is their disposal (Project Drawdown has calculated that 90% of refrigerant emissions occur during their end-of-life). This is why continuing to develop and eventually implementing innovative solutions like this, especially ones that work with what we already have, gives us hope! Working to fix our ecosystem needs to happen at all levels, big and small.

Want to dig in some more? Here are some places to start with the deep cuts towards the end of the list.

  1. http://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2019/05/could-air-conditioners-turn-from-climate-foes-to-friends/ 
  2. https://www.drawdown.org/solutions/materials/refrigerant-management
  3. “A Futuristic Plan Would Turn Air Conditioners into Climate-Change-Fighting Machines”. The Download (blog). MIT Technology Review. May 1, 2019. https://www.technologyreview.com/f/613460/a-futuristic-plan-would-turn-air-conditioners-into-climate-change-fighting-machines/
  4. Dittmeyer, Roland. Michael Klumpp, Paul Kant, and Geoffrey Ozin. “Crowd oil, no crude oil.”. Nature Communications 10, Article number: 188. 2019.  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09685-x#Fig2

Here is a nice infographic on the history of 3D printing:

Infographic History Timeline 3d printing
Click image ☝️ to see the timeline

Construction of a 3D printed home using a gantry.
GAN•TRY (n.) - a bridge-like overhead structure with a platform supporting equipment such as a crane, railroad signals, lights, or cameras (Oxford).
Residential Water Use