The world’s first mechanical tree designed to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has been installed on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University.
Announced in late 2021, the installation of this first direct air capture (DAC) device has been a long time coming.
The mechanical tree installed by Cabron Collect is based on the extensive research of Klaus Lackner, engineer at ASU and by many considered to be one of the pioneers of carbon capture technology.
Lackner was indeed among the first to draw attention to the matter of removing CO2 from the atmosphere in addition to curbing emissions, as a necessary measure to mitigating the climate crisis.
According to Lackner’s research, mechanical trees can become just as commonplace as cars over the next twenty years.
And with the help of this first prototype, hopes are that the technology can be scaled and soon enough mass-production of mechanical trees can start taking place around the world.
The unusual tree that now stands proudly on ASU’s campus looks more like a metal column, is about 5 feet and will be 33 feet tall when fully operational.
It is equipped with large disks, each of which holds six ‘leaves’ that suck CO2 in from the air.
Only unlike many similar DAC solutions, Lackner’s invention does not rely on fans or blowers to capture the CO2 and, instead, does so in a passive manner, which automatically lowers its cost and boosts scalability.
Once the leaves have filled their capacity, the captured carbon dioxide will be moved to an 8-foot wide drum.
From then on, the greenhouse gas can be recycled and used to make a variety of useful products, from fuel to clothing and beyond.