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科学美国人60秒: 空调能帮助地球降温吗?

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Could Air Conditioners Help Cool the Planet?

空调能帮助地球降温吗?

Air conditioning and fans account for a full 10 percent of the world's electricity usage. Or, put another way: "It's a lot of air you pump around."Roland Dittmeyer, a chemical engineer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Another thing that takes a lot of pumping air around, he says? Carbon capture. "Because the concentration of the CO2 in air is evidently quite low." Even though it’s enough to cause climate change, it’s only 400 parts per million.

空调和风扇的用电量占全球用电量的10%。或者,换句话说:“这是大量的空气你周围泵。”德国卡尔斯鲁厄理工学院的化学工程师罗兰·迪特梅尔说。他说,另一件需要大量抽气的事情是什么?碳捕获。“因为空气中的二氧化碳浓度明显很低。”尽管它足以引起气候变化,但其含量仅为400ppm。

So, he says, why not retrofit air conditioners with modules that capture carbon? Several companies already make materials that strip carbon dioxide from the air. You'd then need to convert that captured CO2 into hydrocarbons—an energy intensive process. But Dittmeyer's vision is that we'd use clean, carbon-free renewable energy to power that step.

所以,他说,为什么不把空调改装成能吸收碳的模块呢?有几家公司已经制造出可以从空气中去除二氧化碳的材料。然后你需要将捕获的二氧化碳转化为碳氢化合物——这是一个能源密集型的过程。但迪特梅尔的愿景是,我们将使用清洁、无碳的可再生能源来推动这一步。

Do this on a large enough scale, and you produce significant amounts of this synthetic, renewable oil. Dittmeyer and his colleagues calculated that if you outfitted the AC system of the Fair Tower, a large skyscraper in Frankfurt, with these carbon capture devices, the building’s units alone could produce an estimated 15,000 barrels of synthetic oil a year. The full write-up, in the journal Nature Communications, is called "Crowd oil, not crude oil."

如果规模足够大,就能生产出大量这种合成的可再生石油。迪特梅耶和他的同事计算出,如果你给法兰克福的一座大型摩天大楼费尔塔的空调系统配备这些碳捕捉设备,仅这座大楼的单元每年就能生产大约1.5万桶合成石油。发表在《自然通讯》杂志上的这篇完整的文章被称为“大众石油,而不是原油。”

If the idea gets traction, it could transform the devices that cool our homes and offices into machines that help cool the planet. Or at least stop warming it up while chilling us down.

如果这一想法得到支持,它可能会把那些为我们的家庭和办公室降温的设备变成帮助地球降温的机器。或者至少停止让它升温,同时让我们降温。

Could Air Conditioners Help Cool the Planet?

Air conditioning and fans account for a full 10 percent of the world's electricity usage. Or, put another way: "It's a lot of air you pump around."Roland Dittmeyer, a chemical engineer at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. Another thing that takes a lot of pumping air around, he says? Carbon capture. "Because the concentration of the CO2 in air is evidently quite low." Even though it’s enough to cause climate change, it’s only 400 parts per million.

So, he says, why not retrofit air conditioners with modules that capture carbon? Several companies already make materials that strip carbon dioxide from the air. You'd then need to convert that captured CO2 into hydrocarbons—an energy intensive process. But Dittmeyer's vision is that we'd use clean, carbon-free renewable energy to power that step.

Do this on a large enough scale, and you produce significant amounts of this synthetic, renewable oil. Dittmeyer and his colleagues calculated that if you outfitted the AC system of the Fair Tower, a large skyscraper in Frankfurt, with these carbon capture devices, the building’s units alone could produce an estimated 15,000 barrels of synthetic oil a year. The full write-up, in the journal Nature Communications, is called "Crowd oil, not crude oil."

If the idea gets traction, it could transform the devices that cool our homes and offices into machines that help cool the planet. Or at least stop warming it up while chilling us down.


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