CO2-Capturing Nanomaterials

1. Sustainability Problem: Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere has been rising rapidly. After five years of growth rates exceeding 2 parts per million (ppm), the atmosphere now contains over 400 ppm of CO2. This explosive growth makes it decreasingly likely that climate change targets can be met.

Category: Waste

Sources:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-hits-record-levels/

https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/24/

2. Technology: NanoCO2 Harvesters

Source: “3 ways nanomaterials can combat pollution”, Greenbiz (https://www.greenbiz.com/article/3-ways-nanomaterials-can-combat-pollution)

  • This article discusses the use of nanomaterials – materials composed of particles thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair – to clean up the environment
  • Specifically, nanoCO2 harvesters are nanomaterials that can absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and convert it into useful products
  • For example, scientists developed a nanoCO2 harvester that uses water and sunlight to transform CO2 into methanol, which can be used for a range of purposes, e.g., as engine fuel
  • The main issue to solve at this moment is making the nanoparticles economically viable
  • Other applications for nanomaterials exist and include using them to clean up water by absorbing and converting pollutants such as dyes and heavy metals or to accelerate anaerobic digestion for transforming organic waste into biogas fuel and solids

Tags: #sustainability #climatechange #co2 #nanomaterials #pollution

3. Stakeholders

The key stakeholders for the nanoCO2 harvesters would be industrial facilities managers. They would have to be convinced that using these nanomaterials is superior to using current pollution management processes and to switch over to this new technology.

Regulators are also stakeholders because they need to understand how this material behaves and affects the environment and health. If the material is safe, they could work on making the use of this material mandatory for the production of certain materials.

4. Technology Deployment

  1. Commission and analyze studies to test for the effect these nanomaterials have on the environment and health
  2. Build relationships with facilities managers and regulators
  3. Set up pilot programs with a few facilities

5. Comment on Another Post

I commented on “Circular Mushroom based products”

A TED talk on this technology made the additional point that this production technique supports local and distributed manufacturing. The agricultural waste to which the mycelium is added can vary depending on where production takes place and which agricultural waste is prevalent there. This simplifies the supply chain of creating the material and reduces the carbon footprint associated with securing and transporting the necessary inputs.

Source: https://www.ted.com/talks/eben_bayer_are_mushrooms_the_new_plastic?language=en#t-326671

 

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Turning Climate Pollution Into Fish Feed

 

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Area of focus: Safety and Health

Description:

Overfishing is a global issue that causes environmental and social problems. From an environment standpoint, it not only affects fish stocks around the world which are declining at an alarming rate but also represent an important source of water pollution due to massive fishing boats deployed in various locations. Those big scale exploitations then affect small scale fishermen by decreasing the amounts of fish reaching the coasts. Also, a lot of fish caught by the bigger boats are exported, leaving local population with a reduced quantity of food available.

One of the drivers of overfishing is the need for small fish used as feed (usually for bigger fish productions and livestock).  As the Fast Company’s article mentions : “NovoNutrients wants to replace that fish food with something more sustainable: microbes grown with carbon dioxide”.

The company uses carbon dioxide to feed microbes that become protein used for animal feed production. A pipe is connected to water where the gases are dissolved.

During the process, Hydrogen is also being produced thru (solar-powered) hydrolyse which helps power the installation.

Sources:

https://www.novonutrients.com/

https://www.fastcompany.com/40480856/this-startup-turns-climate-pollution-into-fish-feed

http://www.allaboutfeed.net/New-Proteins/Articles/2017/8/More-fish-meal-but-growing-interest-in-alternatives-165917E/?cmpid=NLC%7Callaboutfeed%7C2017-08-02%7CMore_fish_meal,_but_growing_interest_in_alternatives#comments

 

Stakeholders :

  • Animal feed manufacturing companies
  • Livestock and aquaculture farms
  • Government officials

Implementation:

  • Research countries with the highest concentration of aquaculture farms
  • Approach farmers to show them the product
  • Work with government officials to integrate the use of the product in best management practice guides for farmers

Other technology:  Fighting fire with math and maps (https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/08/03/technology-to-the-rescue-for-foresters-in-the-thick-of-it/)

This technology is interesting as it could help cities with diseases spreading among trees. By mapping the type of trees available around the city, officials would be able to better diversify the kind of new trees planted making “greening” efforts more efficient.

 

CO2NCRETE – Researchers turn carbon dioxide into sustainable concrete

Sustainability Problem:

Over 30 billions tons of concrete are produced every year. Cement, main component of concrete, emits 0.8 tons of CO2 per ton of cement produced. This is about 7% of total global CO2 emissions. First source comes from CO2 released from limestone to produce lime. The second source is from lime and clay being heated to 1450 degrees celsius to make cement. UCLA research is trying to create a close loop process.

Technology:

  • CO2 released from limestone to produce lime gets captured
  • CO2 is then separated from gas stream by membrane
  • CO2 is integrated into building material

Stakeholders:

  • Citizens
  • Government
  • Construction Companies

Steps to Deploy Technology:

  1. Develop scalable technique for 3D-printing
  2. Integrate all processes into a pilot facility
  3. Optimize process parameters

 

 

 

 

Uber for trucks?

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Problem: Carbon Emissions

The trucking industry is composed of small, disparate actors who require brokers to organize shipment routes. This inefficient system often leaves trucks returning to their home bases empty, which is a waste of gas and contributes unnecessarily to congestion, accidents and carbon emissions.
The Solution:
  • Several companies have developed Uber-like apps that send pings to a nearby trucker about a shipment.
  • Like Uber, the trucker can either accept or reject the pick-up.
  • Whereas currently a broker is required to make hundreds of calls to arrange a shipment, the app uses algorithms applied on big data to understand and respond to shipping trends.
  • Ensuring trucks are always full decreases the total number of trucks on the road, which reduces carbon emissions, traffic congestion and accidents.
Stakeholders:
The 3 main companies developing apps.
Trucking companies.
Major shippers (Amazon, Walmart).
Steps to implementation:
1. Expand mobile platforms to span the entire country.
2. Engage more trucking companies and their customers to use the apps.
3. Analyze impacts of apps on trucking routes, congestion, carbon emissions, cost etc.

AIRCARBON: PLASTIC FROM THIN AIR

1. Sustainability Problem

  • Humans produce 660 billion pounds of plastic a year, and the manufacturing process creates three times as much carbon dioxide by weight as actual plastic.
  • Plastic is mostly made of crude oil, which is collected mainly by fracking in the US. Fracking is associated with water pollution, earthquakes in non-sismic areas, and methane emissions.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2014, CO2 accounted for about 80.9% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Issues: Air Pollution, Carbon Dioxide emissions, Petroleum consumption, Fracking

 

2. Technology 

Typically, plastic is made by exposing hydro­carbons from fossil fuels to tremendous pressure and energy. Newlight’s first commercial plant, in California, captures methane generated by a dairy farm’s waste lagoon and transports it to a bioreactor. There, enzymes combine the gas with air to form a polymer. The resulting plastic, called AirCarbon, performs identically to most oil-based plastics but costs less—creating a market-­driven solution to global warming.

AirCarbon is able to meet the performance requirements of a wide range of applications, including applications currently using fossil fuel-based polypropylene, polyethylene, ABS, polystyrene, and TPU. AirCarbon™ can be used in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fiber spinning, and injection molding applications. For more information about specific functional properties, please contact Newlight.

Companies have already signed on to use AirCarbon in their products, including KI desk chairs (pictured), Dell computer packaging, and Sprint smartphone cases.

 

3. Stakeholders

  • Newlight Technologies (owner of the technologies)
  • Companies making plastic-based products
  • Policy-makers to promote the use of AirCarbon
  • Environmental NGOs to require policy-makers to demand sustainable plastic production processes.

 

4. Implementation Process

Founded in 2003, after 10 years of research, Newlight has developed, patented, and commercialized the world’s first commercially-scaled carbon capture technology able to produce high-performance thermoplastics from air and methane emissions that can match the performance of oil-based plastics and out-compete on price.

The company has already won several sustainability awards, as well as attended many environment and sustainability summits in order to spread the word and raise awareness. The list is too large to appear in this text but can be found here: http://newlight.com/news/

 

5. Sources:

Carbon Emissions Turned into Stone

Sustainability problem: 

CO2 released when burning fossil fuels leads to global warming

Solution:

Turn carbon capture into stone and store underground!

    • In Iceland, scientists turned carbon into stone by  pumping a power plant’s carbon dioxide into underground basalt and mixed them with water.  The process chemically solidified the carbon dioxide and changed the basalt and CO2 into a chalk like substance.
    • The solidifying process takes 2 years, whereas it was originally assumed to take decades.
    • The solidification resolves the risk that carbon stored underground as gas or slurry could accidentally be released into the atmosphere.
    • Its currently unclear whether the process could work with many types of basalt or saltwater as opposed to freshwater

Stakeholders

    • Governments trying to meet CO2 cap commitments
    • Power plants trying to limit CO2 due to regulations or cap and trade limits/incentives
    • Citizens who benefit from avoiding the impacts of global warming
    • Coastal cities/regions and other high risk localities that have to plan and pay for warming mitigation and adaption

First 3 steps for deployment:

    1. Additional studies of types of basalt and water required for the reaction (including testing factors that affect the duration of the reaction)
    2. Analysis of potential geographic locations and power plants that have the proper basalt formations and could make use of the technology
    3. Cost analysis and funding models to determine how much the technology will cost to use and which stakeholders should contribute to the costs

 

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-turn-carbon-dioxide-emissions-into-stone-video/

Fighting a Megacity’s Pollution with Mega Panels

Sustainability Problem:

Air Pollution in major cities around the world has become and issue that affects the health of city dwellers.

Article Summary:

  • Plastic panels coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be placed on building facades that react to sunlight.
  • This material breaks down nitrogen oxides and VOCs when it gets in contact with sunlight.
  • Byproduct of chemical reaction is a non toxic chemical (calcium nitrate), which will get washed away with rain

Stakeholders:

  • Government
  • Private entities
  • Public

Steps for deploying technology:

  1. Getting approval from city government
  2. Secure funding for the project
  3. Finding buildings with larger square footage and sunlight exposure

References:

http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/projects/fighting-a-megacitys-pollution-with-mega-panels_o

http://www.prosolve370e.com/