Special Seminar – Klaus S. Lackner – March 3

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering as part of its Departmental Seminar Series announces the upcoming Special Seminar:

  • Topic: Direct Air capture as a Tool for Carbon Management
  • Speaker: Professor Klaus S. Lackner, Arizona State University
  • Host: Dr. Naoko Ellis
  • Time & Date: 1:00pm-1:50pm; March 3, 2017
  • Location: Chemical and Biological Engineering Building Room 102


The climate summit in Paris ended with a challenge to the world: do not settle for a global warming of
2°C, but aim for a much more ambitious goal of 1.5°C. This means removing carbon from the
environment and disposing of it safely and permanently. Direct air capture is a scalable technology
that can reverse emissions and make it possible to rethink carbon management not as pollution but as
waste management. The need to dispose of excess carbon dioxide and the cost of disposal adds value
to efforts that reduce CO2 emissions, reuse it as useful material, or recycle it into fuels with additional
inputs of water and renewable energy. If CO2 becomes the resource base for synthetic fuels and
carbon-based infrastructure materials, air capture provides a means of mining carbon from the air.
Compared to other clean energy technologies like photovoltaic or fuel-cell technologies, direct capture
of carbon dioxide from air is still very new and therefore still viewed with skepticism. I will review the
technical, economic and policy related challenges of direct air capture and how they could be
overcome. I will conclude that the potential societal benefits of direct air capture far outweigh the
costs of developing this new technology.


Dr. Klaus Lackner is the Director of Center for Negative Carbon
Emissions and Professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering
and the Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of
Engineering, Arizona State University. Lackner’s scientific career
started in the phenomenology of weakly interacting particles.
Later searching for quarks, he and George Zweig developed the
chemistry of atoms with fractional nuclear charge. After joining
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lackner became involved in
hydrodynamic work and fusion related research. In recent years,
he has published on the behavior of high explosives, novel
approaches to inertial confinement fusion, and numerical algorithms. His interest in self-replicating
machine systems has been recognized by Discover Magazine as one of seven ideas that could change
the world. Trained as a theoretical physicist, he has made a number of contributions to the field of
carbon capture and storage since 1995, including early work on the sequestration of carbon dioxide in
silicate minerals and zero emission power plant design. In 1999, he was the first person to suggest the
artificial capture of carbon dioxide from air in the context of carbon management. His recent work at
Columbia University as Director of the Lenfest Center for Sustainable Energy advanced innovative
approaches to energy issues of the future and the pursuit of environmentally acceptable technologies
for the use of fossil fuels