Startup Creates LEGO-Like Bricks That Can Affordably Remove Carbon Dioxide From the Air

smoking chimney

Photo: luna123/Depositphotos

By nature, plants and trees are our best allies against carbon emissions. On top of “breathing out” oxygen, they capture CO2 during photosynthesis, keeping the world in balance. However, when they decay, the carbon they stored is released back into the atmosphere. Now, a startup called Graphyte has found an affordable and nearly permanent way to stop this process—sparing the world from tons of emissions through carbon casting.

“After decades of working in the climate change space, we were committed to finding a better way to remove carbon. We knew that energy was critical. That’s why we started with the power of nature,” reads the company's website. “Graphyte realized that the carbon captured in plant matter could be preserved by eliminating the causes of biomass decomposition—microbes and the water they depend on. Drying the biomass eliminates microbes, and impermeable barriers prevent water and gas from restarting the decomposition process.”

Graphyte's solution is a LEGO-like brick that can be buried underground and later tracked. The process is as follows; they first collect by-products of the timber and agriculture industries that would otherwise be left to decompose or be burned. The company then  dries it to eliminate microbes, stopping decomposition. The biomass is later compacted into dense blocks and protected by an environmentally safe, impermeable barrier that keeps microbes at bay. Once ready, they are equipped with a sensor and placed 10 feet underground.

According to the company, this method has leveled production costs at under $100 per ton of CO2 with minimal energy requirements. By comparison, other carbon removal processes cost anywhere from $600 to $1,200 per ton, according to The Washington Post. With the right monitoring, the shoebox-size blocks can remain there for a thousand years, offering a long-term option. The sites where their blocks are placed can be used as solar farms or working agricultural land.

Graphyte states that this is only a complement to aggressive emissions reductions, as gigatons of carbon removal are needed in the coming decades to achieve the targets set by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Graphyte is focused on working with partners responsibly to ensure our solution is not used as a replacement for direct emissions reduction strategies,” they write.

Still, Graphyte's carbon casting endeavor offers a glimpse of hope, as it speaks to the myriad of ways companies big and small can tackle global warming. By not only taking accountability but actively looking to reduce emissions at every step of the way, we all can contribute to protecting our future.

A startup called Graphyte has found an affordable and nearly permanent way to prevent decaying plants from releasing stored carbon into the atmosphere.

Diagram explaining Graphyte's carbon casting process

Graphyte's solution is LEGO-like bricks that are buried underground and later tracked.

Carbon capture bricks by Graphyte

According to the company, this method has leveled production costs at under $100 per ton of CO2 with minimal energy requirements.

Carbon capture bricks by Graphyte

Graphyte: Website

All images via Graphyte except where noted.

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Regina Sienra

Regina Sienra is a Staff Writer at My Modern Met. Based in Mexico City, Mexico, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications with specialization in Journalism from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She has 10+ years’ experience in Digital Media, writing for outlets in both English and Spanish. Her love for the creative arts—especially music and film—drives her forward every day.
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