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This Powder Could Cheaply Capture Carbon Pollution From Power Plants
By Marlene Cimons
A recent UN report found that to prevent catastrophic climate change, humans will not only need to drastically cut emissions in just a few short years. People will also need to generate power from wind and solar, and they will need to upgrade remaining gas- and coal-fired power plants with carbon capture technology—a means of trapping carbon pollution from power plants and storing it underground. But carbon capture has its drawbacks. The equipment is costly and the process requires a lot of energy.
Scientist Zhongwei Chen has developed an alternative, one that could make it more affordable for coal- and gas-fired power plants to clean up their mess.
Chen, a professor of chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, created a powder that can soak up carbon dioxide before it is expelled into the air, which he said is vastly more efficient than conventional carbon capture methods. He said it can be used at power plants, factories and other facilities that burn coal. "This technology is designed to be a real solution to a real problem the world is facing right now," Chen said. "If this technology can help us do better while we find and adopt new, reliable energy sources, that's positive." His study describing the technique appears in the journal Carbon.
Carbon dioxide molecules stick to the surface of carbon when they come in contact with it, a process known as "adsorption," making carbon an excellent material for CO2 capture. The researchers, who collaborated with colleagues at several universities in China, enhanced adsorption by manipulating the size and concentration of pores in the carbon powder. The carbon spheres that make up the powder have many, many pores and the vast majority of them are less than one-millionth of a meter in diameter.
Like other carbon capture methods, the CO2-saturated powder still would need to be buried underground to ensure the carbon dioxide is not released into the atmosphere. But the powder represents a significant breakthrough. While there have been earlier experiments to try to develop "pore-forming" carbon dioxide agents, Chen calls the powder made by his team "the first viable attempt." With previous efforts, the mixtures were corrosive and not absorbent enough, he said.
Carbon dioxide molecules are gathered by the carbon spheres that make up Chen's powder. Carbon
"Our powder is efficient because it has pores that are two to three times larger than a carbon dioxide molecule," Chen said. "By ensuring we have the right number of pores in the right concentration, the powder is able to effectively scoop up the carbon from emissions as it passes through." The powder can be used without needing to install additional equipment. And the raw materials—sugar, molasses, rice husk, straws or agar—are renewable, abundant and cheap, especially when compared to existing technologies.
"One of the most important aspects of this discovery is that it's not expensive," said Chen, who holds a Tier 1 Canada research chair in advanced materials for clean energy, an appointment that recognizes academics who are outstanding in their field. "It can be employed by developed and developing nations alike. Since cost is not a barrier to taking action, we have the ability to see significant change in a very short time. There are not a lot of other solutions out there we can say that about."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Nexus Media.
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Tropical forests globally are being lost at a rate of 61,000 square miles a year. And despite conservation efforts, the global rate of loss is accelerating. In 2016 it reached a 15-year high, with 114,000 square miles cleared.
At the same time, many countries are pledging to restore large swaths of forests. The Bonn Challenge, a global initiative launched in 2011, calls for national commitments to restore 580,000 square miles of the world's deforested and degraded land by 2020. In 2014 the New York Declaration on Forests increased this goal to 1.35 million square miles, an area about twice the size of Alaska, by 2030.
By Cheryl Leahy
Do you think almond milk comes from a cow named Almond? Or that almonds lactate? The dairy industry thinks you do, and that's what it's telling the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
For years, the dairy industry has been flexing its lobbying muscle, pressuring states and the federal government to restrict plant-based companies from using terms like "milk" on their labels, citing consumer confusion.
By Jeremy Deaton
A driver planning to make the trek from Denver to Salt Lake City can look forward to an eight-hour trip across some of the most beautiful parts of the country, long stretches with nary a town in sight. The fastest route would take her along I-80 through southern Wyoming. For 300 miles between Laramie and Evanston, she would see, according to a rough estimate, no fewer than 40 gas stations where she could fuel up her car. But if she were driving an electric vehicle, she would see just four charging stations where she could recharge her battery.
Fire Continues at Texas Petrochemical Plant as Company's History of Violations Gets Renewed Scrutiny
By Andrea Germanos
A petrochemical plant near Houston continued to burn for a second day on Monday, raising questions about the quality and safety of the air.
The Deer Park facility is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC), which said the fire broke out at roughly 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Seven tanks are involved, the company said, and they contain naptha, xylene, "gas blend stocks" and "base oil."
"It's going to have to burn out at the tank," Ray Russell, communications officer for Channel Industries Mutual Aid, which is aiding the response effort, said at a news conference. It could take "probably two days" for that to happen, he added.
The hillsides dyed orange with poppies may look like something out of a dream, but for the Southern California town of Lake Elsinore, that dream quickly turned into a nightmare.
The town of 66,000 people was inundated with around 50,000 tourists coming to snap pictures of the golden poppies growing in Walker Canyon as part of a superbloom of wildfires caused by an unusually wet winter, BBC News reported. The visitors trampled flowers and caused hours of traffic, The Guardian reported.
A controversial pesticide test that would have resulted in the deaths of 36 beagles has been stopped, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the company behind the test announced Monday. The announcement comes less than a week after HSUS made the test public when it released the results of an investigation into animal testing at Charles River Laboratories in Michigan.
"We have immediately ended the study that was the subject of attention last week and will make every effort to rehome the animals that were part of the study," Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of DowDupont, said in a statement announcing its decision.