When we hear the word ‘environment’ it conjures images of the natural world – vast forests, rolling hills, pristine waterways and fresh air… but these wonders are under threat from greenhouse gases produced by industrialised activity and fossil fuels. For years scientists have been searching for ways to sustain and protect these natural resources so they can continue to support future generations long after we’ve all checked out.
|Artist’s rendition of our fantastic catalyst (not 100% accurate).|
Purple are Ruthenium nanoparticles supported on the
ZrO2 nanoparticles (Zr – blue, O – Red). In reality they are
in the nanometer range 10-20 nm and are black.
Like all good stories, there is a baddie in the sustainable environment tale, hell-bent on thwarting our science crusaders. Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the product of combusting fossil fuels, plays this role. When fossil fuels that are solid (coal) or stored underground (petrol and natural gas) are burned to provide energy, they produce CO2 in a gaseous form which is released directly into the atmosphere. And we release a lot of it! We also use natural gas, a fossil fuel that contains mostly methane (CH4), for a lot of our industrial activities.
So how do we solve this problem? How can we have our industrialised world and breathe clean air too?
Read CSIRO Blog story by Ali Green - “Turning CO2 into Fuel.”