The climate situatation is getting more and more dire, and in order to reach the goals the international community has set for themselves, engineering solutions seem increasingly necessary. After talking about solar geoengineering in episode 385, we will look at direct air capture in this episode. Direct Air Capture is a family of technologies that allow the extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere. My guest Peter Psarras explains the technology, the economics and also the political and moral challenges associated with the technology.
The root cause of global warming is that more and more of the energy supplied by the sun is captured by the atmosphere because of increased amounts of CO2 and other climate gases. One way of fixing this is to make sure that more of that energy is reflected and never even penetrates the lower atmosphere. Solar geoengineering proposes to put particles into the upper atmosphere to increase its reflectivity and thereby reduce the temperature. In the episode I talk with Harvard’s David Keith about some of the technical aspects, which role this technique can play in the overall fight against climate change, some of the political challenges as well as current avenues of research.
The beam dump is a large graphite block used to take up the energy stored in the LHC beam in case the beam needs to be shut down. Since the energy in the beam can be as high as the kinetic energy of a landing 747-400, designing and operating the dump is challenging. In this episode, Marco Calviani, who heads the group that is responsible for this and other beam dumps at CERN, tells us about how the dump works, and what they have recently changed in order to cope with the higher luminosity in future configurations of the LHC.