Monday, March 04, 2013

CO2 Sucker Clearing the Air

Researchers in California have produced a cheap plastic capable of removing large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. Down the road, the new material could enable the development of large-scale batteries and even form the basis of "artificial trees" that lower atmospheric concentrations of CO2 in an effort to stave off catastrophic climate change.These long-term goals attracted the researchers, led by George Olah, a chemist at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. Olah, who won the 1994 Nobel Prize in chemistry, has long envisioned future society relying primarily on fuel made from methanol, a simple liquid alcohol. As easily recoverable fossil fuels become scarce in the decades to come, he suggests that society could harvest atmospheric CO2 and combine it with hydrogen stripped from water to generate a methanol fuel for myriad uses.Olah and his colleagues also work on making cheap, iron-based batteries that can store excess power generated by renewable energy sources and feed it into the electrical grid during times of peak demand. To function, the iron batteries grab oxygen from the air. But if even tiny amounts of CO2 get into the reaction, it kills the battery. In recent years, researchers have come up with good CO2 absorbers made from porous solids called zeolites and metal organic frameworks.
More information:
Robert F. Service, Science Magazine 

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