Monday, April 28, 2008

Cut greenhouse gases - How?

Cutting down emission of greenhouse gases (especially the most dominant CO2) is our only chance if we want to fight against global warming. The best solution for this problem would be complete turn to renewable energy sector but this is possible only in theory as the demand for energy grows by each new day, and so the only real solution would be conversion of CO2 emissions in some useful products.

And the turning point of this idea could well be newly developed method by scientist at Newcastle University that have developed a highly energy-efficient method of converting waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into chemical compounds known as cyclic carbonates, which are widely used in the manufacture of products including solvents, paint-strippers, biodegradable packaging, as well as having applications in the chemical industry.

Scientists estimate potential of this technology to use of 48 million tonnes of waste CO2 per year, and though this isn't that much on global scale it's very important first step in developing similar technologies that could use much larger quantities of waste CO2.

This is the first really successful technology for converting CO2 emissions into a useful product, since all past technologies required very large energy input that they in fact generated more CO2 than they could consume. However, Newcastle team used extremely active aluminum catalyst that managed to drive the reaction necessary to turn waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, vastly reducing the energy input required for process.

With this new method there is also a new hope that we can really cut down our greenhouse gases emission, but scientific solutions won't be enough if fossil fuels remain dominant in next 50 years as they are now. This technology (and hopefully with time new improved similar technologies) will still lack global scale factor and will probably need lot of time before they can have serious impact against global warming and CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Therefore we need more energy from renewable energy sources. So far renewable energy sector is still negligible on global scale and "dirty" fossil fuels like coal and oil are still dominant fuels in global energy sector.

Combustion of these dirty fuels is the main reason why CO2 levels in atmosphere are constantly rising. Yes we definitely need science and such hopeful new technologies, but we need even more new energetic policy that will not only talk a lot about renewable energy sector, but also make some significant steps in this direction. How hard can that be?

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