Air compressors are often used to release jets of compressed air, in order to use its stored energy to power tools and other machinery.

However, there is a very different application for air compressors in the field of carbon capture and storage, which is a developing technology with big implications for reducing carbon emissions in the future.

Engineers at the University of Melbourne are working on a kind of molecular ‘sieve’ that captures carbon dioxide molecules from natural gas, removing them so that the gas can be liquefied and transported.

While the gas is then used as fuel, the carbon dioxide is compressed and placed into containers under pressure.

These containers can then be safely stored so that the carbon dioxide does not escape into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas.

Professor Paul Webley of the University of Melbourne says: “Many natural gas fields contain excess carbon dioxide that must be removed before the gas can be liquefied and shipped.”

Through the use of air compressors, this can be achieved without releasing the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – and, in the process, helps to create a greener future for us all.