Energy Solutions


Energy Solutions

The Climate and Life Initiative funds Columbia University scientists whose research addresses the urgent need to reduce global carbon emissions.

Projects focus on removing carbon from the atmosphere through so-called negative emissions technologies that involve carbon capture and storage, and the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies.

Global economic and population growth is going to cause worldwide energy use to increase several-fold over the next 50 years. If this demand is met solely through the use of fossil fuels, atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will increase to levels higher than at any time in the last 50 million years. The result will be temperatures that significantly challenge our ability to sustain our civilization. There will be negative impacts on food production, water availability, ocean health, ecological diversity, and coastal populations and infrastructure.

The development and deployment of carbon capture and storage technologies will lower atmospheric carbon levels. Still an emerging technology, this method removes carbon dioxide from large industrial point sources or from free air and permanently sequesters it underground.

Carbon capture from the air and oceans can significantly draw down future greenhouse gas concentrations and return them to safe levels. Because engineered mineral carbonation emulates a spontaneous natural process, this approach is likely to be the most cost- and energy-efficient method to remove carbon dioxide from the air. In 2016, collaborative field experiments in Iceland proved this technology, developed by Columbia University scientists, was viable and effective.

We invest in Columbia University scientists who address the barriers to safe and secure carbon capture and storage. Their research questions include:

  • Can we develop new scalable, cost-effective technologies for carbon capture, use, and storage?
  • Is mineral carbonation suitable for large-scale commercial deployment?
  • Can engineering with a focus on sustainability provide additional novel, scalable energy solutions?

The pursuit of these high-risk, high reward questions adds to the growing body of literature on this emerging technology and transforms science into solutions through our partnerships with energy sector stakeholders.