Scientists are building a system that could turn atmospheric CO2 into fuel

Scientists in Canada are developing an industrial carbon dioxide recycling plant that could one day suck CO2 out of the atmosphere and convert it into a zero-carbon e-diesel fuel. Developed by tech start-up Carbon Engineering and partly funded by Bill Gates, the system will essentially do the job of trees, but in places unable to host them, such as icy plains and deserts.

Just like these new solar cells that are designed to split water into a hydrogen fuel, the CO2 recycling plant will combine carbon dioxide with hydrogen split from water to form hydrocarbon fuel. The plan is to provide the technology that could one day produce environmentally friendly fuel to complement the renewable energy systems we have now. “How do you power global transportation in 20 years in a way that is carbon neutral?” Geoff Holmes, business development manager at Carbon Engineering, told Marc Gunther at The Guardian. “Cheap solar and wind are great at reducing emissions from the electricity. Then you are left with the transport sector. Carbon Engineering is one of a handful of companies around the world that are now set on coming up with ways to suck enough carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to actually put a dent in the effects of climate change. There’s also the New York City-based start-up Global Thermostat, and Swiss-based Climeworks, which demonstrated earlier this year with Audi how its technology can capture carbon dioxide, and deliver it to German company Sunfire, where it was recycled into a zero-carbon diesel fuel

While Climeworks’ demonstration was impressive, what all three companies now need to do is figure out how to make their atmospheric carbon dioxide to fuel systems economically viable. And this won’t be easy. One problem they’re going to have to overcome is the high cost of heating their carbon dioxide to around 400 degrees Celsius so they can process it properly. Another problem is that few investors are interested in giving them money until they can prove that this is actually feasible.

As Gunther reports for The Guardian, governments and private investors aren’t interested in paying anyone to come up with ways to simply suck carbon dioxide out of the environment, no matter how beneficial to the environment it might be. Plus even if someone was interested, they’d better be willing to fork out the billions of dollars it’s going to take to build a system that could actually make a discernible difference to the world’s climate. These developers need to offer their investors something valuable in return, and the obvious answer is fuel.

co2-capture

Right now, Carbon Engineering’s planned system could only capture only about 450 tonnes of CO2 each year, which would barely cover the carbon emissions of 33 average Canadians, but they say this system could be scaled up to 20,000 times to make it more practical.

As the video explains below, direct air capture seems to be the only potentially feasible way to absorb carbon dioxide that’s already been emitted from small mobile sources such as cars, trucks, and planes, which make up 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions today. The systems require 1,000 times less land than carbon-sucking trees, and can be installed on land, like desert plains, that isn’t worth cultivating or inhabiting.

“I believe we have reached a point where it is really paramount for substantive public research and development of direct air capture,” Klaus Lackner of Arizona State University’s Centre for Negative Carbon Emissions said at the American Physical Society meeting in the US earlier this year.

“Scientists are increasingly convinced that we are going to need large scale removal systems to fight climate change,” Noah Deich from the California-based Centre for Carbon Removal told The Guardian. “I’m excited about direct air capture. It could be a really important technology to add to the portfolio.”

Watch the video below to see how Carbon Engineering plans on doing it. It’s going to take a while before we see the captured carbon to fuel model become a viable solution, but that’s not stopping the likes of Carbon Engineering, Climeworks, and Global Thermostat. We’re excited to see what they come up with.

Advertisements
Scientists are building a system that could turn atmospheric CO2 into fuel

Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

artist's impression of parallel universes

Are we limited to parallel universes?  Prepare to be mind blown by these four other prevailing multiverse theories.

The theory of parallel universes is not a new concept — the term multiverse has been used as early as 1895.  But what exactly is a parallel universe? The theory of parallel universes states that many universes exist parallel to each other within a large multiverse. Not all scientists believe in these separate universes, but one cosmologist, Ranga-Ram Chany from the California Institute of Technology, believes he may have captured the first ever glimpse of a parallel universe.

Chany used data from the Planck telescope found at the European Space Agency, and subtracted cosmic microwave background models from Planck’s picture of the universe.  What he found were regions that were much brighter than they should be, almost 4,500 times brighter. This finding is consistent with the idea that bumping parallel universes leave behind a so-called “bruise” in the form of a ring of hot photons during a collision.

SEE ALSO: Our Place in the Universe

Cosmic microwave background research, analyses, and interpretation are extremely difficult, and Chany admits that there is a 30 percent chance his findings are just background noise or space dust.  He hopes to have more results in the next few years, but he likely won’t have proof of his hypothesis until the next generation of space scanning technology is complete in 15–20 years.

The advancement of space scanning technology could also help prove the existence of not only parallel universes, but other hypothesized forms of multiverses.  How many other theories of multiverses could there be?

1. Infinite Universe

An infinite universe is one that is flat and stretches infinitely in space and time.  Since there is a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in an infinite universe, eventually these arrangements will repeat.  This means that if you were to venture out far enough, you would run into infinite versions of yourself, some living the exact same life as you right now and others that are completely different.

2. Bubble Universe

A bubble universe is based on the idea that after the Big Bang, the universe expanded by inflating like a balloon.  The theory suggests that some parts of the universe stop inflating while others continue, resulting in bubble universes that may have completely different laws of physics.  According to the theory, our universe has stopped inflating which is why we have stars and galaxies.

3. Daughter Universe

Daughter universes are hypothesized to be a product of outcomes or choices, meaning each choice we make spawns a new universe.  For example, say you get acceptance letters for two different universities A and B, our universe would then create daughter universes: one where you go to university A, one where you go to university B, and one where you do not go to either.

4. Mathematical Universe

Mathematical universes are ones where mathematics is a physical reality, and the mathematical structure that makes up our universe is not the only structure that exists.  Separate universes are formed by different initial conditions, physical constants, and mathematical equations.

Will the proof of other universes continue to remain just beyond our grasp, or will we one day find the key to unlock the door separating us from the secrets of the cosmos?

Source: Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

Scientist May Have Had First Ever Glimpse of a Parallel Universe

Arctic sea ice rebound shows resilience

North pole unlikely to be ice-free this summer, say UK scientists, but long-term decline continues

Icebergs in eastern Greenland (Flickr/ Mariusz Kluzniak)

By Megan Darby

Arctic sea ice extent has shrunk 40% since the 1970s, prompting speculation as to when it might disappear altogether.

At a scientific gathering last September, Cambridge University’s Peter Wadhams said it could be as soon as summer 2015.

That’s unlikely, according to UK scientists, after the latest data showed sea ice volume had rebounded from low points in 2010 and 2012.

A study published in Nature Geoscience on Monday found an unusually cool summer in 2013 drove a 41% increase in sea ice volume that year.

Models show Arctic sea ice melting over the long term, UCL scientist and lead author Rachel Tilling said. The latest data shows “it can recover by a significant amount if the melting season is cut short”.

It means the Arctic might be more resilient than previously thought, added Andy Shepherd, professor at UCL and at the University of Leeds.

“Understanding what controls the amount of Arctic sea ice takes us one step closer to making reliable predictions of how long it will last, which is important because it is a key component of Earth’s climate system.

“Although the jump in volume means that the region is unlikely to be ice free this summer, we still expect temperatures to rise in the future, and so the events of 2013 will have simply wound the clock back a few years on the long-term pattern of decline.”

The melting icecap has seen the region opened up to shipping and oil exploration in the summer.

Shell’s controversial drilling plans in the region were put on holdlast week after an icebreaker ship got a gash in the hull.

Source: Arctic sea ice rebound shows resilience  – study

Arctic sea ice rebound shows resilience

Lindsey Graham: Why Don’t Republicans Believe The Scientists On Climate Change?

Republican presidential candidate Lindsey Graham hit back against members of his party who don’t accept the science behind climate change Tuesday.

During an interview on Late Night, host Seth Meyers asked Graham — who has acknowledged his acceptance of climate change before — whether he was “surprised” that so many Republicans don’t share his views on the subject.

“Well I’m not a scientist,” Graham responded, echoing the numerous lawmakers who have plead ignorant to the mechanisms behind the earth’s weather and climate when asked if they think climate change is happening.

“I know I’m not a scientist,” he continued, “but here’s the problem I’ve got with some people in my party: When you ask the scientists what’s going on, why don’t you believe them? If I went to 10 doctors and nine said, ‘Hey, you’re gonna die,’ and one says ‘You’re fine,’ why would I believe the one guy?”

Senator Lindsey Graham on Donald Trump’s Campaign – Late Night with Seth Meyers

Graham’s statement hints at the scientific consensus on climate change: 97 percent of climate scientists who actively publish research agree that climate change is happening and is “very likely” caused by man.

If one were to take Graham’s analogy to doctors literally, the number should be even higher — he would go to 30 doctors, and approximately 29 would tell him he was going to die, while the one left over would say he was fine.

Graham’s made the comparison to doctors before. Last month, he called out the rest of his party for not focusing enough on environmental policy.

“When 90 percent of the doctors tell you you’ve got a problem, do you listen to the one?” Graham asked on CNN’s State of the Union.

Graham added during the CNN interview that he does accept climate change and that, if elected president, he would address the carbon dioxide emissions that cause it in a “buisiness-friendly” way.

Graham’s acceptance of climate science distances himself from the rest of the Republican contenders. When asked about his views on climate change on Late Night with Seth Meyers in May, presidential hopeful Ted Cruz said that, according to satellite data, the earth hadn’t warmed in the last 17 years, and that a cold spring in New Hampshire bolsters that claim — a description of climate change that’s been debunked. Marco Rubio has said there’s “no consensus” on climate change, and has skirted questions about it in the past. Donald Trump has tweeted multiple times about how snow and cold weather is proof that climate change isn’t happening. Chris Christie has said he thinks climate change is real and that humans “contribute” to it, but there is not much evidence he’ll act on climate if he’s elected.

Graham hasn’t been perfect on climate — in 2010, he backtracked on a cap-and-trade deal, which ultimately failed. Still, he’s made the issue a bigger part of his campaign than his fellow Republican contenders.

Source: Lindsey Graham: Why Don’t Republicans Believe The Scientists On Climate Change?

Lindsey Graham: Why Don’t Republicans Believe The Scientists On Climate Change?