Carbon Dioxide Can Be Make into A Usable Fuel

Carbon Dioxide Can Be Make into A Usable Fuel

Waste kitchen foil yields hydrogen. Image: By Stu Spivack, via Wikimedia Commons

With water, light and waste metal, you can turn greenhouse gases into rock. With light, you can turn water into hydrogen, a useable fuel.

Scientists in Britain have tested a way to turn the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into rock, using seawater, sunlight and scrap metal – and one of the waste products is hydrogen, potentially a useable fuel.

Researchers in Japan have devised an even simpler process to make hydrogen: they have worked out how to use natural light and a new kind of catalyst to turn water into hydrogen.

Each process is still at the research stage. But both are examples of the extraordinary levels of ingenuity and imagination at work in the world’s laboratories and research institutions, as scientists around the planet try new ways to sidestep the use of the fossil fuels that release ever greater levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, to drive global warming and precipitate dangerous climate change.

In the past 12 months, researchers have worked out how to generate jet fuel from air, sunlight and water; how to exploit the evaporation of water as a new source of renewable energy; and how to use “bionic” foliage to make a precursor to liquid fuels that could drive a tractor, and even the fertiliser that the tractor would spread.

Clear message

Researchers everywhere are using new ideas, new technologies and new materials to confront the great energy challenge, and their message is clear: it should be possible to power the world without burning coal, natural gas or oil.

The latest experiments start from two points. One is that the carbon dioxide now pumped as waste from factory chimneys and car exhausts is a potential industrial resource that could be recycled as fuel, or at least taken out of the atmospheric cycle altogether and safely stored somewhere.

The other is that solar, wind and water power technologies have already been developed in ways that could yield ever more sophisticated answers to carbon dioxide disposal or the replacement of fossil fuels.

Scientists from the UK report in the journal ChemSusChem that they loaded an aluminium reactor with sea water and waste aluminium in the form of kitchen foil and other wrappings.

“Our work demonstrates the potential for efficiently and cheaply producing hydrogen from water”

They then pumped a mix of nitrogen and carbon dioxide into their reactor and ran electricity from solar panels through the mix. And the process turned the waste aluminium into a harmless crystalline mineral called dawsonite.

“Tens of millions of tonnes of waste aluminium are not recycled each year, so why not put this to better use to improve our environment? The aluminium in this process can also be replaced by iron, another product that goes to waste in millions of tonnes,” said Michael North, a professor of chemistry at the University of York. “Using two of the most abundant metals in the Earth’s crust means this process is highly sustainable.”

He and his colleagues reckon that such technologies could account for 850 million tons of carbon dioxide every year: a gas that would otherwise escape into the planet’s atmosphere could be neutralised as rock. And one of the byproducts from the process is hydrogen: the York team have yet to devise ways to exploit the gas.

But Japanese and Chinese scientists report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society that they can work the same magic without any metal.

Challenge of cheapness

They have developed a photocatalyst based on phosphorus and graphitic carbon nitride that can generate hydrogen from water: unexpectedly, it can do so even with low-energy, near-infra red light.

Hydrogen as a fuel already powers buses and cars: the big challenge is to find ways to deliver the gas as cheaply as petroleum fuels.

“The hydrogen economy faces a great many challenges, but our work demonstrates the potential for efficiently and cheaply producing hydrogen from water with a photocatalyst based on widely abundant elements,” said Tetsuro Majima of Osaka University, who led the study.

“This is an important step toward making other hydrogen-based technologies economically and environmentally viable.” – Climate News Network

About the Author

Tim Radford, freelance journalistTim Radford is a freelance journalist. He worked for The Guardian for 32 years, becoming (among other things) letters editor, arts editor, literary editor and science editor. He won the Association of British Science Writers award for science writer of the year four times. He served on the UK committee for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. He has lectured about science and the media in dozens of British and foreign cities. 

Science that Changed the World: The untold story of the other 1960s revolutionBook by this Author:

Science that Changed the World: The untold story of the other 1960s revolution
by Tim Radford.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon. (Kindle book)

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.