- Science

The reactor converts greenhouse gas emissions into fuel

The electrolytic reactor built at Rice University can recycle CO2 to create pure liquid fuel that uses electricity.


Research team and assistant Professor Haotian Wang used carbon dioxide as a fuel to produce high purity formic acid (CH2O2). Formic acid is an energy carrier. Fuel cells from formic acid can generate electricity and emit CO2. This substance can compress hydrogen gas 1,000 times the volume, which is a big challenge for vehicles running on hydrogen fuel.

Wang said the research is the cornerstone of the chemical engineering industry, fueling other chemicals and storage materials for hydrogen.

Previously formic acid was produced by traditional carbon dioxide equipment, requiring time-consuming, costly and energy-intensive purification steps. The direct production of pure formic acid fuel will promote commercial carbon dioxide conversion technologies.

Wang’s team has been pursuing technologies that turn greenhouse gases into environmentally-friendly products for years. Through experiments, the energy conversion efficiency of the group has reached about 42%. That means nearly half of the electricity can be stored in formic acid to make liquid fuels.

Reducing carbon dioxide is important because it is the cause of global warming. Currently the team is still in the process of research to optimize the energy transition.

“We have been through the period of stone, bronze, iron and now plastic, which is really scary.”

New research indicates that plastic waste may have earned the nickname “fossils,” when plastic has been continuously contaminating the Earth since 1945.

Scientists believe that the plastic layer in the soil has the potential to become a landmark marking the formation of the Anthropecene, the first time humans began seeking to dominate the Earth by various means. They said that after the Bronze and Iron Age, we were about to enter the Plastic Age and the name was not proud.

This scientific report is the first analysis of the occurrence of plastics in sedimentary layers, and the team of researchers examined the layers of rock formed annually off the coast of California, from 1934 to the time. sampling point, 2010. They found traces of plastic coincide perfectly with plastic production over a 70-year period.

For our ears, this is obvious. But (unfortunately) that humans perish, this will be the most obvious trace for generations of living creatures to know what is the starting point of the Human Era.

The majority of plastic particles are filaments of man-made fabrics, suggesting that plastic has been following sewage into the sea for decades.

“Our favorite use of plastic has left fossils,” said Jennifer Brandon, who led the research. “This is a tragedy with bottom-eating animals like corals, clams, oysters and many other species. But the fact that plastic has become a fossil trail raises further questions.

“We’ve all learned in the classroom about the Stone Age, Bronze and Iron Age – but will we live in a new era called plastic?” Brandon said, concerned about the current generation of people. will be “honored” as living in the plastic era, when it could have been Space Age or any other noble purpose.

The day that David Attenborough, a famous English announcer and historian, argued that pollution would make the next generation despise this generation the way we despise slavery, when children People are considered animals.

The new study also shows that from the 40s to the present, the amount of microplastics in the sediment layers has doubled every 15 years. In 2010, the year of the nearly analysis, the number of plastic beads accounted for the rate of 40 grains / 10cm2 of the seabed. Of those, two-thirds are plastic fibers, one fifth of the plastic is broken down into small plastic particles and one-tenth of that exists in the form of thin plastic layers.

“The plastic sign is very clear,” said Professor Brandon. “On the day we invented plastic, plastic almost immediately appeared in sedimentary layers.”

A study published in 2016 indicated that a single cloth could emit up to 700,000 plastic fibers. “Obviously, we don’t know how to handle plastic waste properly. We do not know how to filter plastic right from the household and at the major sewage treatment plants; What can we do now, when it is clear that plastic waste has been sent directly to the sea? ”

Each year, millions of tons of plastic find their way to the environment, decaying into unbreakable micro-fibers and particles. Plastic has been found in deep sea, high mountains and even hovering in the Arctic air.

There is not enough data to confirm the harmful effects of plastic on human health, but we can see clearly how marine animals suffer. It is estimated that we ingest up to 50,000 microplastics every year, although the effects are unclear but we know microplastics can release toxic components, potentially affecting living tissue.

New plastic research has analyzed sediments taken off the coast of Santa Barbara, about 1.5 km from the shore (and also the habitat of 4 million people). This area is inherently lacking in oxygen due to ocean currents, which means that no benthic animals stir the sediments. Samples taken from this area clearly reflect what happened over the past decades.

Although the sample was taken in 2010, there is no reason to suggest that plastic pollution has decreased at all, but is certainly increasing due to the increasing plastic production.

“I hope our research will address the serious problem that we need to fix right away,” Brandon concluded.

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