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NYC towers are using carbon capture to slow down global warming

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Dunya News

The residential high-rise on Manhattan’s Upper West Side appears to be a typical luxury structure from the outside: In the expansive foyer, which is decorated with marble and tapestries, a doorman welcomes guests.

However, there is an extraordinary collection of technology in the basement that only a select few buildings in the globe, let alone those in New York City, can claim. The owners have erected a tangle of twisting pipes and tanks that catch carbon dioxide from the huge, gas-fired boilers in the basement before it reaches up the chimney and is discharged into the air in an effort to substantially cut the 30-story building’s emissions.

The objective is to prevent the gas from entering the atmosphere. In such a vertical metropolis, there is an urgent need to reduce emissions from buildings like these. According to the city’s department of buildings, buildings account for almost two thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions in this area.

Additionally, New York State’s buildings produce the most air pollution of any other state.

As a result, starting in 2019, building owners must make significant cutbacks or risk increasing fines under a new local ordinance. More than half of the city’s structures—roughly 50,000—are governed by Local Law 97. Similar laws were enacted in Boston and Denver, among other places.

Property managers are rushing to alter how their structures function as a result. Some are setting up carbon capture systems that remove carbon dioxide, send it into tanks, and get it ready to be sold to other businesses so they may use it to produce fizzy drinks, detergent, or concrete.

They view it as a means to achieve emissions targets without requiring residents to move out for lengthy upgrades. In this instance, the carbon dioxide is sold to a Brooklyn-based producer of concrete, where it is transformed into a mineral and inextricably incorporated into the concrete.

The system’s creator, CarbonQuest, whose chief operating officer is Brian Asparro, stated, “We think the problem is reducing emissions as quickly as possible.” Time is not on our side, but this kind of solution can be set up fast, cheaply, and with no impact.

However, detractors, many of whom are affiliated with environmental organisations, claim that building managers should go much further. They contend that in order to achieve significant emissions reductions, buildings should be significantly upgraded and converted to renewable electricity sources rather than continuing to burn fossil fuels. Additionally, they raise questions regarding the security of storing substantial quantities of carbon dioxide, an asphyxiant, in a highly populated area.

Anthony Rogers-Wright, director of environmental justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, stated that carbon capture “doesn’t actually reduce emissions; it seeks to put them somewhere else.” “The emissions continue. And let’s be clear: the only way to cut emissions is to cease producing them.

New York City has not yet decided whether or not carbon capture technology qualifies as an emissions decrease; this is still up for debate. Officials from the city are being urged to accept it by Asparro and others.

Two massive 500-horsepower boilers rattle in the basement of the Upper West Side apartment building as they burn natural gas and emit carbon dioxide. According to Asparro, the boilers, which are anticipated to last another 10 to 20 years, are responsible for around half of the building’s emissions.

The power plants from which the building obtains its electricity are thought to be responsible for the other half of the emissions that are attributed to it by the city. According to Asparro, the carbon capture system is capturing around 60% of the emissions from the boilers. In all, it is cutting the building’s emissions by around 23%, including the electricity used to run the system.

Around the world, hospitals and schools have boilers similar to this one, Asparro noted. “Buildings are facing a really big challenge in terms of reducing emissions.”

The carbon capture system is located in a chamber that was converted from a few parking places. The carbon dioxide and other gases are redirected from the chimney and piped there. The gases pass over a unique substance that separates out the carbon dioxide as they move. It is then compressed and chilled to minus 10 °F (minus 23 °C), transforming it into a liquid that is subsequently kept in tanks. The method is still decreasing the building’s emissions overall, but the process requires energy, and trapping carbon dioxide does raise the building’s power demand.

Additional lines connect to spigots outside the structure, where a truck loads up with liquid CO2 once or twice every week. It is transported by truck through city streets and across a bridge to Brooklyn, where it is sold to a business that makes concrete.

Oil and gas corporations, as well as some manufacturing facilities, have been using carbon capture equipment on an industrial scale for decades to collect climate-warming carbon dioxide and either sell it or utilise it to extract more oil from the earth.

But today, a tiny number of green technology businesses and building owners are making their initial attempts to use this technology on a much smaller scale on residential structures. Buildings larger than 25,000 square feet must minimise emissions according to New York City regulations. A device that traps carbon dioxide and eventually turns it into soap has been installed by the hotel Radisson Blu Mall of America in Minnesota.

There are certain federal tax advantages available to building owners who can afford to pay for carbon capture systems. According to NYC Accelerator, a programme that aids homeowners and property managers in finding methods to cut emissions, there are further incentives available to assist with updating buildings.

According to Josh London, senior vice president of Glenwood Management Corp., the company that oversees the apartment complex, computerised motors, fans, and pumps, LED lighting, and battery storage are also included in the apartment complex’s energy-saving features. This year, the business intends to install carbon capture systems in five additional buildings.

According to Asparro, if nothing is done, such high-rise structures might be subject to fines of around $1 million every year as of 2030.

Question Remain:

Carbon capture is still controversial among many environmental organizations, who would rather invest in the transition to renewable energy sources. They are concerned that retaining carbon dioxide in a residential structure might be hazardous since it can result in suffocation at very high concentrations.

According to a report from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 45 individuals sought medical assistance at nearby hospitals after a carbon dioxide pipeline broke in Satartia, Mississippi, in 2020, including those who had been trapped in a vapour cloud while driving. According to the paper, those who are exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide may have fast breathing, disorientation, high blood pressure, and more arrhythmias. Asphyxiation can cause mortality in situations when carbon dioxide levels are extremely high.

He said that the possibility of leakage exists in the event that a truck carrying carbon dioxide is involved in an accident.

The response from proponents of carbon capture technology is that there are precautions to avoid such situations. According to Asparro, many local agencies approved the carbon capture device that was installed in the Manhattan residence.

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