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Carbon Dioxide Scrubbing May Get Easier
Carbon dioxide (CO2), though naturally occurring, is considered detrimental at the levels humans are releasing into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. Greenhouse gases, like CO2, trap heat in the atmosphere and keep the planet from getting too cold but the amount we are producing could be making it too hot and global warming is not just another way of forecasting “awesome beach weather.” The carbon cycle can remove some CO2 but not as quickly as we need it to because of our high emission rate. Current methods of removal are energy intensive and inefficient and scientists are reporting that they have discovered an improved way to remove CO2 from smokestacks and the open air.
Chemistry Nobel Laureate George A. Olah, Alain Goeppert, and G. K. Surya Prakash worked with colleagues to test “solid materials based on polyethylenimine, a readily available and inexpensive polymeric material” to reduce CO2 emissions. They even tested the material in humid conditions that would normally make “scrubbing” CO2 from the air difficult.
The group used a “silica-organic hybrid”, FS-PEI which is “based on fumed silica impregnated with polyethylenimine,” as the solid adsorbent for their studies. The use of the word “adsorbent” is not a typo in this instance.The difference between the word “adsorbent” and “absorbent” is not just the “d.”
Absorbing is a process we see often, a material sucking up a liquid or gas, like a paper towel absorbs water. Adsorbing is different because the material does not take in the liquid or dissolved solid but instead let’s it accumulate on the surface. Now that we have, hopefully, properly explained the difference between the two processes let’s get back to FS-PEI.
“The researchers suggest the materials may be useful on submarines, in smokestacks or out in the open atmosphere, where they could clean up carbon dioxide pollution that comes from small point sources like cars or home heaters, representing about half of the total CO2 emissions related to human activity.”
Does this mean the material could eventually be sold for use in the home? Perhaps in a way similar to desiccant packages which are used to prevent moisture damage to electronics and shoes? The scientists spoke of the material’s ability to be re-used, “After capturing carbon dioxide, the materials give it up easily so that the CO2 can be used in making other substances, or permanently isolated from the environment. The capture material then can be recycled and reused many times over without losing efficiency.”
Will we one day see recycling centers that will take this material to extract the CO2 and then return the material back to use again? Or maybe there will be a company that is in charge of sending a worker to professionally extract the CO2 and then take it to a factory that uses the material at a faster rate than a residence? The scientists believe their findings are promising and more research is needed. If the material is indeed as effective as they’ve found there may be a push to make it easy for home use. There may be a far-off day when we go to the store and our list will read: “bananas, bread, milk, CO2 scrubber.”
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.