Israeli start-up High Hopes Labs has developed balloons that can capture carbon dioxide emissions in the upper atmosphere.
One of the main hurdles on the way to implementing conventional carbon capture solutions at scale today is their high costs.
High Hopes Labs is trying to overcome that with its unique approach to capturing CO2 emissions in the upper atmospheric layers.
Namely, the Israeli company’s creative solution is to capture those emissions when they are nearly solid (almost by the time they reach the state of dry ice), which can only take place at very low temperatures, such as high above the Earth.
According to CEO Nadav Mansdorf, capturing Co2 is much easier when it is almost frozen. Carbon dioxide freezes at exactly -80 degrees Celsius.
And that temperature is naturally only found 10 miles or 16 kilometers above sea level.
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High Hopes Labs has tested its system on a small scale by launching balloons filled with gas and a carbon capture device attached underneath them. The device then captures the solidified CO2 by separating it from the air and brings it back down to earth.
The innovative technology closely resembles the way a refrigerator works in that it also uses a compressor and cooling fluid to keep the CO2 in its near-solid state.
Once down here, the carbon can be recycled.
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The start-up plans to build larger balloons over the next two years and put them in operation to remove an estimated tonne of CO2 per day.
Each of the balloons can be in the air between 8 and 10 hours, after which it needs to land and unload. But as soon as it has unloaded the captured emissions, it can go back up again.
The projected cost of the operation will be less than $100, which is significantly lower than existing on-ground carbon capture facilities.