Converting Atmospheric CO₂

I had an idea as I was driving today. It seems so obvious that I’m sure it has some fundamental flaw. Either that, or someone is already working on it. I’m writing this only in the hopes that a Chemist or Biologist can explain to me how I’m wrong and why I’m wrong.

We have a problem with CO₂ in the atmosphere. Politicians and environmental groups are hard at work bringing in regulation regarding the amounts of CO₂ we are putting into the atmosphere. But is anyone working on removing CO₂ from the atmosphere?

My idea is this - build machines which will convert atmospheric CO₂ back into Carbon and Oxygen.

It’s not as if CO₂ is some exotic molecule or radioactive waste. It’s one of the simplest and most common molecules on earth. It is subject to many of the most common chemical transformations possible.

What if we could design “solar panels” or filtration units which operated like synthetic chlorophyll, extracting carbon and producing oxygen? Surely some type of positive result could be gained through the process in addition to the environmental benefit?

I’m not a biologist or chemist, so this might be a thoroughly impractical for any number of reasons I haven’t thought about. But - what if?


I intentionally wrote this before Googling. As a programmer, it some times feels like I’m just a professional search-engine operator. It’s nice to just spend some time thinking about a problem, rather than immediately jumping to the solution. That being said, I was quite satisfied with the result once I did search.

The “answer” is that it’s a good idea being pioneered by some very smart people, but not yet ready for widespread use on the “Climate Change” scale.

We need people on this.