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Vacuum system could help remove greenhouse gasses

Could big machines that soak up carbon dioxide be part of the solution to global warming? One company thinks its giant vacuum system can help remove greenhouse gases out of the air. Trees are natural air filters, and planting a billion new ones would remove 13 million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. But fossil fuel burning currently adds 26 billion tons of CO2 a year. That's why climate change expert Wally Broecker says just reducing what we emit won't be enough to impact global warming. Broecker said, "We've got to do more than just have good will toward cutting down on fuel use, using alternate energy. It's going to take something else." Broecker wrote in the journal "Science" that that something else is this -- a machine that removes carbon dioxide from the air. Allen Wright, president of the company developing the machine, says the output yields an end product of pure CO2 gas, which could then be stored, perhaps by pumping it underground -- or even sold. Wright said, "Carbon dioxide is used as a solvent to extract additional oil from wells that have become depleted, through use and time, [cover begins] you might be able to put an air capture park next to a wellhead that has been depleted and extract additional oil from that well." The machine in their shop is just a prototype. Wright says future commercial units will likely be the size of a semi trailer, could be made to look more attractive, and that millions of them could be parked around the planet. Wright said, "A collector of that size would capture and produce on the order of a ton of CO2 per day." Since it runs on electricity, Wright says it's important that the machine removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it adds by using non-green power. He says future versions will use more green energy, giving the earth's natural air cleaners a little help. Other researchers are working on capturing CO2 from concentrated sources like power plants, but this would be the first device to address CO2 that has already been dispersed in the air. For more video about how the machine works visit

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