North Sea water and recycled metal combined to help reduce global warming

December 13, 2017

Scientists at the University of York have used sea water collected from Whitby in North Yorkshire, and scrap metal to develop a technology that could help capture more than 850 million tonnes of unwanted carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are a major contributor to greenhouse gases and global warming. Carbon overload is mainly the result of burning fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, as well as deforestation.

Global efforts are being made to reduce carbon dioxide levels as well as find novel ways of trapping excess gases from the atmosphere. The team at York have now found a way to safely trap the gas as dawsonite, a solid mineral and natural component of the Earth's crust.

Professor Michael North, from the University's Department of Chemistry, said: "We wanted to look for methods of trapping the gas using environmentally friendly tools to produce a result that could be highly scalable to capture millions of tonnes of unwanted carbon dioxide.

"We started with the realisation that using graphite, the material used in pencils, to line aluminium reactors, results in the mineralisation of carbon dioxide. We wanted to trap the gas at much higher levels, using low-energy processes, so we decided to look at waste materials, such as scrap metals, to see if this could be done without using chemical agents as a catalyst."

Researchers filled the aluminium reactor with sea water taken from Whitby Bay, and waste aluminium such as that found in kitchen foil or food wrappings. The gas is transferred to the sea water inside the reactor. Electricity, captured from solar panels, is passed through it, resulting in the aluminium turning the dissolved carbon dioxide into the mineral, dawsonite.

Professor North said: "Tens of millions of tonnes of waste aluminium are not recycled each year, so why not put this to better use to improve our environment? The aluminium in this process can also be replaced by iron, another product that goes to waste in the millions of tonnes. Using two of the most abundant metals in the Earth's crust means this process is highly sustainable."

The research showed that 850 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could be mineralised each year using a combination of sea water, solar-powered electricity, and scrap metal, eliminating the need to use high energy gas-pressurisation and toxic chemicals to produce the same effect.

Unlike other electrical reaction systems for carbon dioxide treatment, hydrogen is not needed to cause the chemical reaction in the first instance, which would normally make the process more expensive.

Instead, hydrogen is produced from the electrical circuit and becomes a side-product of the process. Hydrogen gas, a non-polluting gas that is valuable to the future of fuel production at low cost and 'zero emissions'.

Researchers are now working to maximise the energy efficiency of the process and allow the hydrogen by-product to be collected and utilised, before seeking to build toward full-scale production.
-end-
This work is published in the journal ChemSusChem.

University of York

Related Global Warming Articles from Brightsurf:

The ocean has become more stratified with global warming
A new study found that the global ocean has become more layered and resistant to vertical mixing as warming from the surface creates increasing stratification.

Containing methane and its contribution to global warming
Methane is a gas that deserves more attention in the climate debate as it contributes to almost half of human-made global warming in the short-term.

Global warming and extinction risk
How can fossils predict the consequences of climate change? A German research team from Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), the Museum of Natural History Berlin and the Alfred Wegener Institute compared data from fossil and marine organisms living today to predict which groups of animals are most at risk from climate change.

Intensified global monsoon extreme rainfall signals global warming -- A study
A new study reveals significant associations between global warming and the observed intensification of extreme rainfall over the global monsoon region and its several subregions, including the southern part of South Africa, India, North America and the eastern part of the South America.

Global warming's impact on undernourishment
Global warming may increase undernutrition through the effects of heat exposure on people, according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Yuming Guo of Monash University, Australia, and colleagues.

Global warming will accelerate water cycle over global land monsoon regions
A new study provides a broader understanding on the redistribution of freshwater resources across the globe induced by future changes in the monsoon system.

Comparison of global climatologies confirms warming of the global ocean
A report describes the main features of the recently published World Ocean Experiment-Argo Global Hydrographic Climatology.

Six feet under, a new approach to global warming
A Washington State University researcher has found that one-fourth of the carbon held by soil is bound to minerals as far as six feet below the surface.

Can we limit global warming to 1.5 °C?
Efforts to combat climate change tend to focus on supply-side changes, such as shifting to renewable or cleaner energy.

Global warming: Worrying lessons from the past
56 million years ago, the Earth experienced an exceptional episode of global warming.

Read More: Global Warming News and Global Warming Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.