An international team of researchers has developed a technique that converts carbon dioxide into methane, a component of natural gas. If the efficiency of the process can be improved, it could reduce carbon emissions while also providing a source of cleaner energy.
REDUCTION BY CONVERSION
Most nations and institutions are attempting to fight climate change due to global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At present, this is mostly done by cutting down on the use of fossil fuels, replacing them with alternative sources of energy that are renewable and cleaner. However, totally shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources will take significant time, as the necessary infrastructure will need to be built.
Another challenge is actually figuring out what goes on during the photochemical process. The researchers know, for example, that iron — one of the initial components mixed with CO2 — ends up binding with carbon dioxide in the first part of the process. What they don’t yet understand is how hydrogenation of the CO2 occurs.
Additionally, the CO2 sample used in the study came from a canister and was, therefore, more pure than what’s in the air, so the team plans to work on finding ways to capture CO2 from the air and filter out impurities.
Still, being able to convert CO2 into the more useful methane is a feat. Methane, the primary component in natural gas, is a cleaner source of energy, so this method could do two things at the same time: reduce carbon emissions and supply cleaner energy.
However, methane is still a fossil fuel and it could even be more harmful than CO2 if it’s allowed to leak into the atmosphere. An extreme amount of care and caution will be needed to ensure that this newly produced methane is properly stored and transferred.