**Update: Be sure to check out the gallery! Also check out the FAQ section below.**
We are currently students at the University of Waterloo who strongly believe that a world where we can enjoy the pleasures of modern life and keep our environment clean at the same time, is within our reach.
A few years ago, Ma'in Sinan, an automotive engineer living in London, Ontario invented a technology for capturing and storing the CO2 emissions of cars, trucks, and buses. The beauty of this technology is that it can be built into both new and existing vehicles; into your new car, and into the car you drove today - meaning it can dramatically reduce the pollution from the cars already on the road.
The dream is to get this technology on as many cars, trucks and buses as possible. The captured vehicle CO2 can then be recycled into biofuels, fertilizers, plastics and even nutritional products with algae technologies. With transportation producing one quarter of the world's CO2 emissions, the potential environmental benefits of this technology are staggering.
Our goal is to build a better showcase for this technology, to both get the word out about this technology and to attract the investments needed to get it on the road. We will be building a new unit of the VCCT and installing it on a car, which we will use to better showcase this technology and it's vast potential. With your support, we can take this next big in making our transportation carbon neutral.
There is over 800 million vehicles on the roads today. As the world transitions to carbon neutral vehicles, we still need to reduce the environmental impact of these vehicles already on the road; the VCCT can do just that. By helping attract investments for, this project will get us a big step closer to putting this game-changing technology.
What We Need & What You Get
Ultimately this project is about making a showcase that demonstrates the true potential of this technology. We will be buying a cheap used car, for around $2000, exactly the kind of car that is so common on the road, and exactly the sort of car that our system will be making carbon neutral. We will then build several models of the VCCT and monitoring the performance of the car with these systems over long periods of time, to demonstrate that a car's performance is unaffected by the VCCT.
The money will also go to buying the parts for the different models and the cost of fuel for the the long range tests. Also, while we as a team will be capable of building most of the system ourselves, there will be several delicate machining jobs which we will need to pay for for these models. These efforts should make it possible for us to optimize the manufacturing process for cheap mass production.
Other Ways You Can Help
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What happens to the stored CO2?
Currently, our leading contender for dealing with the captured CO2 is algae, where the captured CO2 is emptied from the vehicle and recycled with an algae culture. CO2 can be used in the process of growing algae, wherein useful products can be derived from the resulting algae biomass; this includes biofuels, fertilizers, highly nutritious animal feed and cosmetic products. Research and development in the use of algae cultures, whether in open ponds or photobioreactors, for recycling CO2 has been going on for decades; we want to make use of the many advances made in this CO2 recycling technique. We are also exploring different chemical processes that have been developed for dealing with CO2 in a safe non-corrosive way.
What happens if the exhaust storage is full?
When the exhaust storage is full, the vehicle will simply begin emitting it's exhaust gases into the air as it would without the technology, until the storage unit is emptied again.
What are the effects on the fuel efficiency of a vehicle using this carbon capture system?
Our calculations indicate that the effects will be minimal; one of the benefits of this project is that it will allow us to confirm such effects in detail.
As an interesting side note, we expect that this technology will have similar affects as a turbo charger - increasing the engine's volumetric efficiency, albeit arriving at that affect in a totally different way. The reason for this is that the act of pumping exhaust gases out of the engine will reduce the residual exhaust gases that are known to remain in the engine's cylinders after a given cylinder's expansion stroke and into that cylinder's next intake of a fuel-air mixture, reducing the resulting heating and expansion of the intake fuel-air mixture and thus theoretically increasing the engine's volumetric efficiency. This project will also allow us to measure this phenomenon in detail.
There is more than just CO2 in exhaust gases, what happens to the non-CO2 gases?
Currently, all gases are being captured. We are exploring different filtration technologies so that in the future only the most harmful gases (including CO2 of course) are captured, allowing for more efficient storage. Metal organic frameworks are a good example of this; research has shown that metal organic frameworks can be used for both filtering CO2 from exhaust containing other gases such as CO and CH4 and for storing the filtered CO2 in a highly efficient manner.
Why not just focus on developing electric vehicles and/or fuel cell powered vehicles?
The vision is that the VCCT will work a long side leading clean transportation technologies, for an even cleaner earth. Even if every vehicle manufactured tomorrow onwards were completely emissions free (which would be fantastic), the nearly one billion cars, trucks and buses on today's roads would still be there for years, emitting and polluting. This technology makes it possible to make vehicles carbon neutral well after they have left the assembly line. Also, the current reality is that there will be significantly more emissions emitting vehicles produced than emission free vehicles in the near future, and the VCCT will be the best way to address those vehicles.
To get this technology on the road, wouldn't there need to be an infrastructure to handle the CO2? Is that a huge barrier to get this technology out there?
Our long term goal is for this technology to be widespread. Our more immediate goal is to get this technology on larger vehicles, such as transport trucks and buses. One great way to start commercializing this technology is with public transit systems. There are two big reasons for this: the first is that these bus lines will now be to offer completely carbon neutral transportation, which will of course increase their ridership, making their investment in this technology worthwhile. At the same time, buses in public transit systems will often go through a central hub and/or some common points. We can use these common points, especially the central hub, for discharge points.
Another great way to begin commercializing this technology is on transport trucks. This is because companies that use the transport trucks which adopt the VCCT will be able to advertise a reduced carbon neutral footprint. These transport trucks won't have central hubs like the public transport buses; however, until a widespread infrastructure is adopted, these trucks could simply run a good portion of their trip carbon neutral. If the storage gets full, they can go back to emitting their CO2 until the trip is complete. This would still significantly reduce carbon emissions.
We intend to use the revenue from commercializing this technology on public transport buses and transport trucks to begin funding the infrastructure needed for a widespread adoption of this technology.
Wouldn't it be better to simply capture the CO2 of industry (power plants, factories, etc.)?
There is already a significant amount of R&D in this area. Ideally carbon capture would be widely adopted for both industry and transportation. Since transportation is responsible for about 1/4 of the world's CO2 emissions, it wouldn't make sense to just count on carbon capture from industry. At the same time, a great thing about this technology is that it will empower the individual to make a significant reduction in their carbon footprint.