Using alternative biofuels to fulfill our power needs is an important way to lessen CO2 emissions in our atmosphere. When fossil fuels burn, the carbon and hydrogen react with oxygen in our air to create two components: carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20). In fact, approximately 25 billion tonnes of CO2 are produced each year from the use of fossil fuels. CO2 has damaging effects on our atmosphere by slowing down the production of ozone—the protective layer between earth and harmful radiation being emitted from the sun.
When we use biofuels and other alternative energy solutions, we reduce our reliance on fossil fuel. Less use equals less burning of fossil fuel and that means less CO2 in our atmosphere.
What if there was another way to help reduce excess CO2 levels in our atmosphere?
At Oregon State University, one professor, Kyriakos Sylianou, had been wrestling with just that question. Professor Sylianou specializes in metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).
According to a press release from OSU, MOFs are “porous, crystalline materials that are composed of metal ions and organic ‘linker’ molecules known as ligands. Their intelligently designed composition results in a hollow cage-like structure that is extraordinarily useful for a variety of applications. Their structure can be fine-tuned for different applications by changing the size or composition of metal ions or ligands.” In layman terms, these molecules have space to trap and absorb other elements, like CO2.
The challenge with many MOFs is that they like to blend with water. Once they touch the water in the air, they break down or are absorbed. In fact, 325,000 MOFs were reviewed to find only two that wouldn’t be negatively impacted by water.
Professor Stylianou and one of his graduate students, Arunraj Chidambaram, combined these two materials together and designed a molecule that would trap CO2 in the atmosphere. Experiments showed that their newly synthesized MOFs not only did what they had hoped, but they outperformed other previously known carbon removal materials such as zeolite 13x and activated carbon. Professor Stylianou is hopeful a product can be made from these MOFs that will be effective and cost-efficient in helping to reduce CO2 levels in our atmosphere.
Such a material does not decrease our need to find and use alternative energy solutions, but it is a compliment to our strategies. If implemented, using MOFs alongside alternative energy solutions, we can reach our goal of achieving cleaner air in our communities more quickly.
Want to learn more about biofuels and other forms of alternative energy?
The Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition’s mission is enhancing the livability of the Rogue Valley. We promote and educate on alternate fuels, seek to decrease dependency on petroleum, and promote clean air and water in the Rogue Valley via alternate fuels. Contact us today for more information!