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What's the Deal with Carbon Sequestration?

In recent years, governments across the board have been setting GreenHouse Gas emissions reduction targets. These initiatives have the aim of reducing the amount of GHGs that are spewed into the atmosphere by our buildings, vehicles and other sources.

The importance of emissions reduction cannot be understated, however, what are we to do about the CO2 that has already been emitted? 

Enter Carbon Sequestration

Carbon Sequestration is a natural or artificial process by which atmospheric CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored indefinitely. Right this moment, tonnes of carbon dioxide are being extracted from the atmosphere by plants and cement structures like bridges and sidewalks. Our oceans also act as giant carbon sinks, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it on the sea floor as sediment.

The caveat of Carbon Sequestration is that the extraction is done locally. This means that the process is more efficient in areas with high concentrations of CO2 such as industrial exhausts, highway underpasses and dense urban centers.

Since the Kyoto Protocol of 1992, advances in Carbon Capture Technology have really taken off. There are now devices known as Phyto reactors that utilize phytoplankton to capture CO2 from ambient air and covert it into algae. The result is an accumulation of algae that can be dried and consumed or transformed into bio-fuel.

There remains a lot to learn about around how to most effectively absorb carbon through this method. In fact, the National Research Council of Canada has been researching the potential of Algal Carbon Conversion extensively.

While GHG reduction targets continue to pop up all over the globe, who will be the first to implement a target for carbon capture?

Alex Bigonesse