Artificial Trees: Could They be Better Than the Real Thing?

synthetic trees capture carbon photo

Photo via pfly @ flickr

Fake plants generally don't give off huge environmental benefits—especially when they're the plastic kind that just barely cheer up offices and waiting rooms. But a synthetic tree now in development may be better for the environment than its natural counterparts; click through to see why.Living trees are one of nature's best carbon capturers; planting them can help counteract the carbon emissions of everything from cars to planes (though they're just a small part of a bigger solution). But the artificial version created by Columbia University professor Klaus Lackner has been grabbing carbon 1,000 times more quickly than the rooted versions (and "several hundred times better," according to Lackner, than windmills) for a total of 90,000 tons of carbon each year--even without sunlight.

Each tree costs about as much to produce as a new car, but gives off only 200 kg of carbon dioxide for every 1000 kg it catches, and the stored carbon dioxide can be liquefied for use as fuel. And while a forest of these wouldn't have quite the same fairy-tale feel as a traditional grove, the benefits could go a long way toward offsetting our carbon footprints.

Via Popular Science
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