Carbon-Sucking Synthetic Trees

Synthetic Tree If global warming is at least partly a function of global deforestation, we’re left with the problem of how to replace the de-carbonizing power of the billions of trees we’ve collectively disappeared in the blink of an historical eye. Dr Klaus Lackner has an idea: Deploy vast farms of synthetic trees, each with 1,000 times the carbon-sucking power of a real tree. You wouldn’t exactly want to picnic under one (“It looks like a goal post with Venetian blinds,” said the Columbia University physicist…”), but it’s an interesting idea.

While real trees properly dispose of (i.e. utilize) the carbon they trap, the problem with synthetic trees is that we’d have to manually reclaim the carbon they absorb. And what are we going to do with mountains of recycled carbon? “Make pencils!,” Amy suggests.

Music: Television :: Little Johnny Jewel

7 Replies to “Carbon-Sucking Synthetic Trees”

  1. While real trees properly dispose of (i.e. utilize) the carbon they trap, the problem with synthetic trees is that we’d have to manually reclaim the carbon they absorb. And what are we going to do with mountains of recycled carbon?

    Make huge water purification systems (like the carbon filters in fishtanks). Two birds, one stone.

  2. Crystalline carbon has a number of very useful features. First, it conducts heat extremely well, which (I’m told) is why the IC industry is looking at it as a substrate for chips to replace silicon. Second, its tensile strength is enormous. Third, it is still the hardest substance known to man. Fourth, it is an excellent insulator. The list goes on and on.

    I think that the ability to control and manipulate the mollecular structure of pure carbon; be it as diamond or as carbon nanotubes, bucky balls, and the like; is going to form the basis of a quiet revolution in materials science.

    What kinds of things might we make with cheap industrial crystalline carbon? Well… here’s a funny example: http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff1000/fv00973.htm

  3. Interesting, Jim. You’re right about nanotech and the importance of carbon there, as well as in semiconductors.

    You mocking my carbon-fiber big-boy underpants? :)

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