Israeli startup develops cost-effective way to capture carbon with balloon


Israeli startup develops cost-effective way to capture carbon with balloon


High Hopes Lab, an Israeli startup, has joined the fight against climate crisis by developing carbon-capture balloons that it said will become the world’s first affordable, scalable technique of capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Every year, the world’s population emits around 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, primarily through the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas. This is the major contributor to global warming and climate change.

To address the climate crisis, not only the use of fossil fuels needs to be reduced, but carbon dioxide must also be removed from the atmosphere and stored for a long time.

Nadav Mansdorf, CEO of High Hopes Lab, pointed out that nature absorbs roughly half of greenhouse gas emissions each year, while the rest must be removed by humans to mitigate climate change.

Carbon dioxide freezes at roughly minus 80 degrees Celsius, and these temperatures can be found 15 kilometers above the Earth, Mansdorf explained. The company has thus built a balloon out of a particular material that, when filled with hydrogen, can reach this altitude while carrying a payload.

When the wind blows through it, the carbon dioxide in the payload is separated and stored in a freezer compartment. The weight of the carbon will then pull the balloon back down to Earth, with the solid carbon changing into carbon dioxide gas as it descends.

The carbon dioxide captured can be sold to industry for use in processes ranging from plastic manufacturing to the production of carbonated beverages. It can also be buried underground at high pressure.

According to Mansdorf, the largest payload tested so far weighed only a few kilograms, but the most important thing is to know that the method works.

The first milestone, which is expected to be accomplished within the next year, will be capturing 50 to 300 kilograms of carbon dioxide per day, per balloon.

The second milestone will be removing one metric ton of carbon dioxide per balloon per day. However, the timeline of accomplishing this goal is not yet determined, and will depend on available funding, said Mansdorf.

The company is looking for US$100 to US$250 per tonne of carbon dioxide for its first milestone, Mandsdorf added, and it’s hoping to reach below US$40 to US$50 for the second milestone.

“The unique thing about our solution is that we can do it at a huge scale, at a very low cost,” he noted.

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