Is CO2 a latent gaseous gold?

It's widely considered an unwanted emission, but the carbon dioxide that spews from smoke stacks and cars may be worth something someday, Ingram writes. 

David Gray/Reuters/File
A smoke stack is seen next to apartment blocks in Beijing in this December 2007 file photo. Increasing dependence on carbon dioxide for resource extraction could bring about a new market for CO2, Ingram writes.

Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that carbon dioxide released by human activity is to blame for global warming, theres no doubt that we do release a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Many countries have now introduced measures to curb those emissions, something that goes hand-in-hand with reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Ironically, it seems that the gas we're all so keen to cut down on could be the next hot commodity in industry, as an increasing number of industrial processes make use of carbon dioxide.

According to Pike Research, an increasing push towards energy independence is putting more nations under pressure to make use of their own resources.

Many of these resources--oil in particular, but also coal bed methane--are difficult to extract, and using compressed CO2 is an effective method of facilitating the extraction.

It's a process which has already been going on for many years. Figures from the U.S. National Energy Technologies Laboratory show that in 2008, 90 million barrels of oil were extracted using Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), an extraction technique using compressed CO2.

The country has also spent $1 billion on 2,200 miles of CO2 transmission and distribution pipeline infrastructure.

Increasing dependence on CO2 for such processes could bring about a new market--CO2 capture for the specific purpose of selling it to EOR companies.

It's more likely that CO2 will end up being captured from factories or other sources than purged from the back of your car, but it's peculiar to think that every journey you make doesn't just emit greenhouse gases, but may soon be expelling a valuable commodity, too...

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