Researchers Describe Their Vision for a Cost-Effective Solution to Fight Climate Change


<div data-thumb = "" data-src = " newman / gfx / news / hires / 2019 / counterintui.jpg "data-sub-html =" Conceptual diagram of an industrial set for converting methane (CH4) to carbon dioxide (CO2) at the same time. using catalytic materials called zeolites (CUII and FEIV) Credit: Jackson, et al. 2019 Sustainability of nature / Artist: Stan Coffman ">

<img src = "" alt = "Counter-intuitive solution to climate change" title = "A conceptual drawing of 39, an industrial matrix converting methane (CH4) to carbon dioxide (CO2) using catalytic materials called zeolites (CUII and FEIV). et al. 2019 Sustainability of nature / Artist: Stan Coffman "/>
Conceptual diagram of an industrial complex of conversion of methane (CH4) to carbon dioxide (CO2) using catalytic materials called zeolites (CUII and FEIV). Credit: Jackson, et al. 2019 Sustainability of nature / Artist: Stan Coffman

A relatively simple process could help reverse the trend of climate change while generating substantial benefits. It's one of the hopeful visions outlined in a new paper by Stanford that highlights a seemingly counter-intuitive solution: converting one greenhouse gas into another.

The study, published in Sustainability of nature On May 20, he describes a potential process for converting methane, an extremely powerful gas, into carbon dioxide, a much less powerful factor in global warming. The idea of ​​intentionally releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere may seem surprising, but the authors argue that the exchange of methane for carbon dioxide is an important net benefit to the climate.

"If perfected, this technology could restore pre-industrial concentrations of methane and other gases to the atmosphere," said lead author Rob Jackson, provostial professor Michelle and Kevin Douglas in science and technology. Earth System at the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

The basic idea is that some sources of methane emissions – from rice or livestock, for example – can be very difficult or expensive to eliminate. "Another solution is to offset these emissions by eliminating methane, so that there is no net effect on global warming," said Chris Field, co-author of the ################################################################################## 39, study, director of Perry L. McCarty at the Stanford Woods Environmental Institute.

A problem and a possible solution

In 2018, methane – about 60% of which is generated by man – has reached atmospheric concentrations two and a half times higher than pre-industrial levels. Although the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is much higher, methane is 84 times more powerful in terms of global warming of the climate system in the first 20 years after its release.

Most global average temperature stabilization scenarios at 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels depend on strategies to reduce the overall amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere and to eliminate what is already in the atmosphere. 39 atmosphere by methods such as tree planting or underground sequestration. However, the elimination of other greenhouse gases, especially methane, could provide a complementary approach, according to the study's authors, who point out the disproportionate influence of this gas on the climate .

Most scenarios of carbon dioxide removal usually assume that hundreds of billions of tons are disposed of over the decades without restoring the atmosphere to its preindustrial levels. In contrast, methane concentrations could be restored to their preindustrial levels by removing about 3.2 billion tonnes of gas from the atmosphere and converting them to a quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent to a few months' worth of gas. global industrial emissions, according to the researchers. If successful, this approach would eliminate about one-sixth of all causes of global warming to date.

Methane is difficult to capture in the air because of its low concentration. However, the authors point out that zeolite, a crystalline material consisting mainly of aluminum, silicon and oxygen, could essentially serve as a sponge for absorbing methane. "The porous molecular structure, the relatively large surface area and the ability to accommodate copper and iron in zeolites make them promising catalysts for the capture of methane and other gases," said Ed Solomon, Professor of Chemistry, Faculty of Human Sciences, Science and Science. .

The entire process can take the form of a giant machine with electric fans forcing air through tumble chambers or reactors filled with zeolites and other catalysts in powder or granules. The authors suggest that trapped methane could then be heated to form and release carbon dioxide.

A profitable future

The process of converting methane to carbon dioxide could be profitable with a price for carbon emissions or an appropriate policy. If carbon offsetting market prices reach $ 500 or more per ton this century, as predicted by the most relevant valuation models, each tonne of methane extracted from the atmosphere could be worth more $ 12,000.

A network of zeolites the size of a football field could generate multi-million dollar revenue a year, while eliminating harmful methane in the air. Researchers claim in principle that the conversion of a more harmful greenhouse gas into a less powerful gas could also apply to other greenhouse gases.

Although reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels may seem unlikely in the near future, researchers say this might be possible with such strategies.

Bacteria that oxidize methane present in common soil

More information:
Sustainability of nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41893-019-0299-x

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Stanford University

Researchers Describe Their Vision for a Cost-Effective Solution to Fight Climate Change (May 20, 2019)
recovered on May 20, 2019

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