HOW TO HARNESS CARBON EMISSIONS

 HOW TO HARNESS CARBON EMISSIONS

Ever since Al Gore got the Nobel Peace Prize for his documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, the world has been taken up by the Global Warming bug. Everyone knows about carbon emissions, corporations are being pressurised to control them, and environmentalists have had a great time showing up our faces in the mirror and asking us what we’re doing to the only planet we can live on.
However, the question scientists now are asking is: what if we could use our carbon emissions in other ways so that it will be economically profitable for us? If that is the case, companies won’t consider it blasphemy, and the planet will be grateful to us all, wouldn’t it?
We’re not actually so far off from turning emissions into commodities, it turns out. In the United States alone, a number of companies aim to convert waste carbon dioxide into chemicals that can be used to make products we buy every day: bleach, baking soda, car seats, diapers, even fuel.
The phrase that is doing the rounds is carbon capture. One way of doing this is to use ‘regular’ elements like salt, water and electricity to convert carbon dioxide into sodium bicarbonate, commonly called baking soda. The other, more modern way of going about it is to use genetically engineered bacteria to catalyse a chemical process that converts carbon dioxide, sunlight and water into fuel that cars can use. While none of these techniques are yet commercially viable, the potential is huge that we can convert carbon emissions into something that is more useful.

Damien Peters

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