Greenhouse gas removal

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Greenhouse gas removal projects are a type of climate engineering that seek to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and thus they tackle the root cause of global warming. These techniques either directly remove greenhouse gases, or alternatively seek to influence natural processes to remove greenhouse gases indirectly. The discipline overlaps with carbon capture and storage and carbon sequestration, and some projects listed may not be considered to be climate engineering by all commentators, instead being described as mitigation.[1]

Carbon sequestration[edit]

A wide range of techniques for carbon sequestration exist. These range from ideas to remove CO
from the atmosphere (carbon dioxide air capture), flue gases (carbon capture and storage) and by preventing carbon in biomass from re-entering the atmosphere, such as with Bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Pyrogenic carbon capture and storage[edit]

Pyrogenic carbon capture and storage is discussed as a promising technology of greenhouse gas removal. Pyrolysis is described by Werner et al. (2018) as "the thermal treatment of biomass at 350 °C–900 °C in an oxygen-deficient atmosphere. Three main carbonaceous products are generated during this process, which can be stored subsequently in different ways to produce [negative emissions]: a solid biochar as soil amendment, a pyrolytic liquid (bio-oil) pumped into depleted fossil oil repositories, and permanent-pyrogas (dominated by the combustible gases CO, H2 and CH4) that may be transferred as CO2 to geological storages after combustion."[2]

A different procedure has been proposed by Esrafilzadeh et al. (2019) that makes it possible to create bio char under room temperature, using liquid metal electrocatalysts.[3]

Chlorofluorocarbon photochemistry[edit]

Atmospheric chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) removal is an idea which suggests using lasers to break up CFCs, an important family of greenhouse gases, in the atmosphere.[4]

Methane removal[edit]

Methane potentially poses major challenges for remediation. It is around 20 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as CO
.[5] Large quantities may be outgassed from permafrost and clathrates[6] as a result of global warming, notably in the Arctic.[7]

There are existing climate engineering proposals.[8][9] Methane is removed by several natural processes, which can be enhanced.


In 2018, the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change published a report on the costs, potentials and side effects of 7 greenhouse gas removal techniques[11] It revealed that the costs differ between the techniques, but are in the order of 100 to 300 USD per eliminated tonne of CO2.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wigley TM (October 2006). "A combined mitigation/geoengineering approach to climate stabilization". Science. 314 (5798): 452–4. Bibcode:2006Sci...314..452W. doi:10.1126/science.1131728. PMID 16973840.
  2. ^ Constanze Werner et al. (2018): Biogeochemical potential of biomass pyrolysis systems for limiting global warming to 1.5° C. Environmental Research Letters, 13(4), 044036. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/aabb0e
  3. ^ Dorna Esrafilzadeh et al. (2019): Room temperature CO2 reduction to solid carbon species on liquid metals featuring atomically thin ceria interfaces. Nature Communicationsvolume, 10, 865. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-08824-8
  4. ^ Stix, T.H. (7–9 Jun 1993). "Removal of chlorofluorocarbons from the troposphere". 1993 IEEE International Conference on Plasma Science. Vancouver, BC, Canada: IEEE. p. 135. doi:10.1109/PLASMA.1993.593398. ISBN 0-7803-1360-7.
  5. ^ "Methane as a Greenhouse Gas CCSP Research Highlight 1". U.S. Climate Change Science Program. January 2006.
  6. ^ Buffett, B.; Archer, D. (2005). "Time-dependent response of the marine clathrate reservoir to climatic and anthropogenic forcing". American Geophysical Union. Spring. Meeting 2005: U33A–05. Bibcode:2005AGUSM.U33A..05B. 2005AGUSM.U33A..05B.
  7. ^ "Methane Release from Arctic Clathrates Could Threaten Global Climate". International Polar Foundation. 4 June 2008.
  8. ^ Stolaroff, J. K.; Bhattacharyya, S.; Smith, C. A.; Bourcier, W. L.; Cameron-Smith, P. J.; Aines, R. D. (2012). "Review of Methane Mitigation Technologies with Application to Rapid Release of Methane from the Arctic". Environmental Science & Technology. 46 (12): 6455. Bibcode:2012EnST...46.6455S. doi:10.1021/es204686w. PMID 22594483.
  9. ^ Lockley, A. (2012). "Comment on "Review of Methane Mitigation Technologies with Application to Rapid Release of Methane from the Arctic"". Environmental Science & Technology. 46 (24): 13552–13553. Bibcode:2012EnST...4613552L. doi:10.1021/es303074j.
  10. ^ Reeburgh, William S.; David T. Heggie (1977). "Microbial methane consumption reactions and their effect on methane distributions in freshwater and marine environments" (PDF). Limnology and Oceanography. 22 (1): 1–9. Bibcode:1977LimOc..22....1R. doi:10.4319/lo.1977.22.1.0001.
  11. ^ Negative emissions—Part 2: Costs, potentials and side effects