Trying to tackle the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide that we release into the air each year is a tall order, but Klaus Lackner of Arizona State University’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions thinks he has a solution. Bloomberg reports that Lackner, who has been working on the problem for two decades, has discovered a resin that absorbs CO2 from the air when it's dry and releases the gas for collection when it's moist.

According to Lackner, the material functions like an artificial plant, and it's capable of removing 1000 times more CO2 from the air than a similarly sized tree. The collected carbon dioxide could then be reused in greenhouses or to make biofuel. Lackner and his team have created mockups of large-scale CO2 cleaning devices that would fit into shipping containers, but he told Bloomberg that it would require 100 million machines to do the job. Still, Lacker remains hopeful about the project's future. 

"It's only a question of how much does it has to hurt before we make the step," he said. "The danger is that by the time it hurts, it's too late."

[h/t Bloomberg