A group of scientists that include the Nobel Laureate George A. Olah have discovered an improved method of ‘capturing’ carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In a recent report for the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Olah and his colleagues address what they view as ‘one of the most challenging issues of our century’: the management of CO2 emissions. Their findings reveal a new solid material based on polyethylenimine that can be used as an absorbent to scrub CO2 from the air. The results of their research could potentially counteract the effects of the ever increasing consumption of fossil fuels by mankind, which they cite as a leading cause of environmental problems such as climate change and ocean acidification.
This material can be used at both industrial sources, such as power plants and factories, as well as small distributed sources like car exhausts. It can even be used to capture CO2 directly from the open atmosphere. Once captured, the carbon can be sequestered or recycled to manufacture other carbon based substances. The polyethylenimine material is regenerable, meaning it can be reused to capture carbon over and over again without loss of efficiency. Unlike existing methods of removing CO2, it is also inexpensive, easy to prepare and far less energy intensive. Whether you’re a climate change alarmist or a skeptic, there is no doubt that this material could have a positive and far-reaching effect on our environment. In the future, CO2 may no longer be considered a problematic and unusable byproduct. Instead, as the study suggests, it could be seen as a ‘valuable feedstock for the production of fuels and materials.’