Can we filter greenhouse gases from the atmosphere? © Getty Images

Can we filter greenhouse gases from the atmosphere?

The technology is still growing, but plants remain the best way to filter carbon dioxide from the air.

Asked by: Will Marritt, Hampshire


Removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is tricky. Some new technologies use chemical filters to extract CO2 from the air, but come with a hefty price tag. A more promising method relies on plants’ natural ability to absorb ambient CO2 as they grow, transforming it into biomass. Planting trees or crops therefore results in a net removal of CO2 from the air. Taking things one step further, this plant matter can be burned inside specially adapted power stations that produce energy while capturing the CO2 emitted and burying it underground. This technology is, however, still undergoing development.


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