Is Carbon Capture In Cars The Low Carbon Answer?

Say carbon capture to many environmentalists and you’ll likely get a sigh and rolling of the eyes. What if this technology though, instead of being applied as a band aid to massive power plants, instead was of use in automobiles? Could it be the answer to a lower carbon future that lets drivers anxious around range issues in electric cars stay in combustion engine models instead? A recent survey suggests carbon capture might be something drivers would be willing to consider, and perhaps even pay a bit of a premium for.

University of Michigan researchers found that respondents to an online study

were willing to pay about $100 for a 20-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and $250 for an 80-percent reduction.

Further, drivers seem willing to accept a 5-percent reduction in gas mileage and a 10-percent loss in storage space for a 20-percent cut in carbon emissions, and a 10-percent drop in fuel economy and a 16-percent loss in storage for an 80-percent reduction in emissions.

“While most efforts at containing carbon dioxide emissions are directed at large-scale stationary producers like coal-fired power plants or other industrial sources, there has also been interest in considering the feasibility of carbon capture from small distributed power plants, like gasoline-fueled internal-combustion engines ubiquitous in transportation,” said John Sullivan, an assistant research scientist in UMTRI’s Human Factors Group, in a statement. “Various methods are under development to capture and store these gases before they enter the atmosphere.”

One such method reportedly would be to equip passenger vehicles “with carbon capture and storage technologies, which would require additional space (possibly in the trunk) and costs (for initial installation and reduced fuel economy).” While this an interesting idea, there is one big caveat – how much acceptability this might actually have in real world traction with drivers is said to depend “on driver belief that human activity is associated with global warming.”

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.

1 Comment

  • Reply September 24, 2013


    Great idea, if people don’t adopt the technology due to global warming they should do so to eliminate air pollution. Places like Beijing Sao Paulo and Mexico City are chocking to death on air pollution. If the technology worked, it would need to be adopted on a national scale.

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