Center for Negative Carbon Emissions

We are advancing carbon management technologies that can capture carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from ambient air in an outdoor operating environment.

Arizona State University’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions (CNCE), with our commercial partner, Carbon Collect, is testing a prototype technology that would remove CO2 from the air through the use of MechanicalTrees™.

Widespread use of such a technology could help draw CO2 out of the air and reduce global warming.

The CO2 collected by the Mechanical Trees ™ can then be converted into a carbon neutral fuel or other useful chemicals, or disposed of to cancel out present or past emissions. The specific design licensed to Carbon Collect is an ASU innovation developed through Salt River Project sponsorship. ASU and Carbon Collect are partnered on research and commercialization of
the Mechanical Tree ™ design. 

On the lab scale, we can demonstrate that various sorbent varieties and regeneration techniques can increase the concentration of CO2 from the amount that is in ambient air, 400 parts per million (ppm), or 0.04%, to an enriched stream of up to five percent (then compressing to the desired end-use). This passive process does not blow air but relies on the wind. Specific projects to demonstrate these processes are listed below.

World-renowned researchers

Klaus Lackner

Center Director and Professor

Klaus Lackner is the director of CNCE and a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the
Built Environment of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU.

Matthew Green

Assoc Professor

Green’s research focuses on the design and synthesis of novel, ion-containing polymers to be used in applications such as water purification, carbon dioxide capture, nano composites, and micellar solution assemblies.

John Cirucci

Chief Engineer

John Cirucci is a research professor at Arizona State University and chief engineer for ASU’s CNCE. He is a
chemical engineer and process technologist with an emphasis in gas separations, process design, energy
systems and geospatial analysis.


Innovative research projects

Greenhouse in a glovebox

By feeding a plant water and artificial sunlight in an enclosed environment, we can measure the plant’s photosynthesis of CO2 and maintain a higher moisture content.

Automated shutter-box

This project is a modular and automated approach to capture and generate a stream of CO2-enriched air using the moisture swing.

Secondary sorbent

For more enriched concentrations (up to almost purity) of CO2, a second step is required. To this end, one possible approach is to store CO2 in a carbonate/bicarbonate medium that enables further purification.

CNCE considers the economic, political, social and environmental ramifications that will arise with the availability of an affordable air capture technology.

The center’s long-term goal is to become the intellectual leader in this new field of sustainable energy infrastructure design, which is critical to achieving a carbon negative energy economy.