LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Local scientists say it’s an idea whose time has come. They are exploring how to combat climate change by pulling carbon dioxide straight out of the air.

“Los Alamos pioneered the concept of direct air capture of CO2, or carbon dioxide, almost 20 years ago,” says earth and environmental scientist, George Guthrie. “At that time, it was before its time.”

The team at Los Alamos National Lab is looking into the feasibility of extracting the greenhouse gas, then storing it underground to stop it from affecting the atmosphere. One idea is using existing saline reservoirs and replacing the saltwater with the CO2.

Taking it a step further, they are also looking at whether the CO2 might then be put to good use. “If you can make that work, you can actually take that carbon dioxide and combine it with hydrogen that you’d make from green sources,” adds Guthrie. “Which is solar or wind, and you can produce a carbon-neutral liquid fuel that could be used in cars.”

Los Alamos is working with the Department of Energy on what it would take to roll out a program like this in the Mountain West region of the United States.