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New Catalyst Converts Greenhouse Gases to Usable Fuel

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]A new catalyst developed by engineers from the University of Surrey can transform carbon dioxide and methane into usable gas.The catalyst is based on the metal nickel that has been enhanced with ceria and tin.It can convert the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane via synthesis to a gas that is a usable component to produce fuels and manufacture a variety of chemicals.

“The goal we're all chasing as climate scientists is a way of reversing the impacts of harmful gases on our atmosphere - this technology, which could see those harmful gases not only removed but converted into renewable fuels for use in poorer countries is the Holy Grail of climate science,” said Dr.Tomas R.Reina from Surrey University.

The technology for capturing and containing carbon gas is common nowadays.But it has several downsides, such as cost and precise condition, to become effective in reducing carbon gas emissions in the atmosphere.The new catalyst is anticipated to become widely available for many industries with a cost-effective price tag.

Storage Methods for Carbon Dioxide

Carbon capture and sequestration is the process of capturing and safely storing carbon dioxide waste from large sources, such as fossil fuel power plants.It is stored and deposited in places where the gas cannot escape and reach the atmosphere like an underground formation.The purpose of the development of CCS is to help reduce the impact of carbon dioxide on the environment.CCS contributes to minimizing carbon gas emissions that are contributors to global warming and ocean acidification.

CCS involves three processes – capture carbon dioxide, transport the gas, and securely store it.For the capturing, there are technologies like pre-combustion capture, post-combustion capture, and oxyfuel combustion to separate the gas from others produced by sources.For the transport, the gas is transported using pipelines or a ship.Each year, millions of tons of carbon dioxide are stored and transported by road tankers, ships, and pipelines.For the safe storage, the gas is deposited in a carefully selected underground formation several kilometers below the earth’s surface.

Uses of Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide has many beneficial uses for humans and nature.We commonly use the gas in the food industry, oil industry, and chemical industry to produce many products such as inexpensive and non-flammable pesticides.Other uses of the gas include:

Photo by: Zeynel Cebeci via Wikimedia Commons

- Used in fermentation to make bread porous and tasty.

- Used by plants and other organisms for photosynthesis.

- Used by plants to provide oxygen gas which we breathe.

- Used by pharmaceutical companies as an alternative to toxic solvents like organochlorides.

- Used in medicine as an addition to pure oxygen to stimulate breathing after apnea, a suspension of breathing.

- Used in medicine to create carbogen or Meduna’s Mixture, a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen.It is used in psychotherapy, early treatment for the central retinal artery occlusion, and radiation therapy with nicotinamide.

Adverse Effects of Carbon Dioxide Exposure

Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless, and non-flammable gas, and the fourth richest gas found our atmosphere.The gas can also exist in solid and liquid form depending on the pressure and temperature of the surroundings.Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide gas.

High amounts of carbon dioxide in the air in an enclosed area lowers the amount of fresh air available.Prolonged exposure to high amounts of carbon dioxide can lead to several health issues, such as headaches, dizziness, restlessness, tingling sensation, breathing difficulty, sweating, fatigue, elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, asphyxia or suffocation, convulsions, and even coma.

Extremely low amounts of carbon dioxide in the air can also lead to health problems.In a study conducted by NASA in 2011, long-term continuous exposure to below one percent of carbon dioxide in the air within eight hours gave headaches, lethargy, mental slowness, emotional irritation, and sleep disruption to the crew of the International Space Station.

Diseases Associated with Carbon Dioxide

1.Respiratory acidosis: It is the effect of too much carbon dioxide in the blood caused by the lack of ventilation.

2.Vasolidation: It occurs when the carbon dioxide is very low in the blood.The blood vessels become constricted that can lead to decreased delivery of fluids to the circulatory and lymphatic systems.

3.Free Radicals: The amount of carbon dioxide has been found important to the generation of free radicals.According to Dr.Ray Peat, cells are more vulnerable to free radicals if the amount of carbon dioxide is too low.

4.Nerve Stabilization: The sedative effect of carbon dioxide is used by neurons to calm down.Otherwise, the neurons constantly fire up spontaneously without coordination, which may lead to psychological problems.

5.Smooth Breathing: The lack of carbon dioxide in the body can cause hypocapnic central apnea.Central sleep apnea is a disorder in which the person’s breathing stops and starts repeatedly when sleeping.This happens when the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.Very low amounts of carbon dioxide in the blood can cause apnea.

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