What if every air conditioner was stopping climate change as it kept you cool?

The air conditioners and ventilation systems on apartment complexes or office towers aren’t typically a tool for fighting climate change. Air conditioning, alone, may use so much electricity by the middle of the century that it could push up the average global temperature by half a degree . But what if instead of contributing to climate change, HVAC systems could instead remove carbon from the air as they kept us cool. The idea behind carbon capture is that machines suck carbon dioxide from the air –an example of “negative emissions.” This requires moving around large volumes of air, and the machines typically do that by running fans, a process that itself uses a lot of energy. A new study suggests that HVAC fans on buildings could help do some of the work. “If you think of the amount of air which [already flows through] all these air conditioning, ventilation, and heating systems, it’s a huge amount,” says Roland Dittmeyer, a chemical engineer at the Germany-based Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and one of the authors of the paper. “And you already pay for the electricity to contact this air.” The system would be fairly simple: Modular attachments to air conditioners […]

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