It may sound too good to be true, but TU Delft PhD student Ming Ma has found a way to produce alcohol out of thin air. Or to be more precise, he has found how to effectively and precisely control the process of electroreduction of CO2 to produce a wide range of useful products, including alcohol. Being able to use CO2 as such a resource may be pivotal in tackling climate change. His PhD defence will take place on September 14th.
[...] For mitigating atmospheric CO2 concentration, carbon capture and utilization (CCU) could be a feasible alternative strategy to carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). The electrochemical reduction of CO2 to fuels and value-added chemicals has attracted considerable attention as a promising solution. In this process, the captured CO2 is used as a resource and converted into carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), ethylene (C2H4), and even liquid products such as formic acid (HCOOH), methanol (CH3OH) and ethanol (C2H5OH).
The high energy density hydrocarbons can be directly and conveniently utilized as fuels within the current energy infrastructure. In addition, the production of CO is very interesting since it can be used as feedstock in the Fischer–Tropsch process, a well-developed technology that has been widely used in industry to convert syngas (CO and hydrogen (H2)) into valuable chemicals such as methanol and synthetic fuels (such as diesel fuel). The figure attached describes these three processes and the way electroreduction of CO2 could potentially close the carbon cycle.
Beer, from air. Others use barley as an intermediary.
Publication: Aula TU Delft, PhD defence Ming Ma, Selective Electrocatalytic CO2 Conversion on Metal Surfaces.
(Score: 4, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday September 12 2017, @08:28AM (10 children)
It's not "adding air to air" - it's adding CO2 in excess that becomes pollution.
"Making ... from air" (the thing that irked you on the straw-man trail) does not necessarily mean all the components of the air are used in the making. If you extract CO2 from air and make things, you still made the things "from air".
Of course, if you make the things from a liquefied CO2 bottle, it may be you are making things from... mmm... "thick liquid" instead; and if you just release the CO2 in the air of a room, you may die of CO2 poisoning - you may try it (not on yourself, I suggest find a non-human enemy instead) if you want a demonstration why too much CO2 in air is a pollutant.
(Score: 2, Troll) by Arik on Tuesday September 12 2017, @08:47AM (9 children)
It's adding air to air. Air is a composite gas, CO2 is one of the normal components, we're only dickering over the ratios. That's not pollution. And I'll add that contrary to apparently widespread but completely nonsensical assertions, not all things that are bad are pollution.
"If you extract CO2 from air and make things, you still made the things "from air"."
Exactly my point.
If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
(Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Tuesday September 12 2017, @09:00AM (8 children)
Oh, come on, Arik! Really now. You find nothing funnier to post than some bickering over definitions?
Look, I am one of the guys that say "AGW is happening due to the increased CO2 concentration in air".
You call it pollutant or non-pollutant, CO2 doesn't care about your definitions: it will continue to trap more heat for longer than the other major components of the Earth atmosphere (and, given a chance, it will poison you if its partial pressure is high enough).
(Score: 2) by Arik on Tuesday September 12 2017, @09:37AM (7 children)
I'm a problem solver, son and grandson of problem solvers, I've been doing it as long as I can remember and I expect I'll be doing it on my deathbed.
And I tell you completely serious, no joke, the first step to solving a problem is to define the problem.
If you don't know what the problem is, your chances of solving it are not going to be good. The better you can define the problem, the better equipped you are to find solutions for it. If you can't even give a non-contradictory executive-overview level of the problem, then the chances of you solving it are extremely remote.
Pollution is a clearly defined term, with a clearly defined meaning, which has been increasingly misused just as we've seen repeatedly in this thread, as a slur word with no particular definition other than 'something bad.' There are a couple reasons that come to mind for this - one is that very clearly the AGW people way back when they were first planning world domination decided it was good branding to call carbon 'pollution' even though they knew damn well it wasn't. People were primed and edgy about pollution, it was a genius move from that point of view, but it's certainly done nothing to encourage me to view it as anything other than marketing. And the second is simple hollywood degeneracy, hollywood inevitably condenses everything down into 'good guys' and 'bad guys' in time for the climax, and I really wish that I could believe that people take that for what it is, but clearly we don't always do that. People unironically and unashamedly talk about 'the good guys' and 'the bad guys' in situations where it's utterly childish and unrealistic, where even 30 years ago it would have been seen as such, even joe sixpack would have been embarrassed for you to hear you say something so astonishingly naïve, like all you knew of life was some bad movie. Today our most respected leaders make such utterances daily.
So this attempt to change the meaning of the word pollution to mean 'anything bad and scary' really doesn't inspire confidence in these people or their hypothesis, but it doesn't actually mean they're wrong, just dishonest, and the continuing success of this fraud may have more to do with the general degeneracy than with their efforts specifically.
Whole subject depresses me man. If for no other reason than that I love the English language. We have a large and varied variety of words for bad things because it's incredibly useful to be able to accurately define exactly what sort of bad thing you need dealt with. Now we're busy collapsing all of those words into one big cloud of synonyms that all mean the same thing and thus can convey little or no useful information as to the nature of the problem. This is just a violent assault on the language itself, and the culture, the history that it preserves and conveys across the generations.
I weep for the next generation.
If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
(Score: 2) by FatPhil on Tuesday September 12 2017, @10:15AM
The definitions you quoted are not identical to each other. Therefore you yourself seem to have proved that the definition is not as clear as you have just claimed.
Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
(Score: 2) by tfried on Tuesday September 12 2017, @10:35AM (4 children)
Apparently not so, for you have not been able to point us to any definition that is remotely clear in the sense you would like it to be.
The "something bad" is actually a core part of the term from early on. E.g. wiktionary says
Which is also pretty much the only part that is still left, today, of the early recorded uses of the word.
I absolutely concede that adding CO2 to air is not something I would refer to as a prototypical example when explaining pollution. I would also concede that it makes more sense to say that the atmosphere is polluted, here, not the air, since CO2 in the given levels is not a problem for breathing, etc.
Further, I will even concede that the use of the term pollution has undergone significant changes. This however is very simply a side-effect of awareness of / debate on environmental issues at large. A new topic was starting to be discussed, using existing terms, and so those terms took on new connotations. There is absolutely nothing specific to climate change, in this respect, however. Light pollution and noise pollution are equally non-prototypical uses that emerged in the late 1960s, early 1970s, long before "carbon pollution" came into use (which I believe to be a term of the late 1990s, early 2000s, although I have not found a definite source; let's see if you can point us to earlier uses).
Look, I can see your distress with labelling CO2 as a pollutant. But that's not because you are worried about the English language. That's because you simply do not think man made CO2-emissions have the negative effects on climate that "the AGW people" ascribe to them. Do us all a favour, and try to bring how that point, instead of simply sabotaging any debate with silly word games.
(Score: 1) by Arik on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:07AM (3 children)
I pointed to not one but three definitions and showed how each and every one of them necessarily implied exactly the definition of the word that I used. You can't have missed the post, just up the tree.
"The "something bad" is actually a core part of the term from early on."
No disagreement there. Another thing I posted recently which you might have more easily missed was my own definition, which I initially avoided giving for the same reason that I posted the dictionary definitions - to avoid the accusation I'm pushing my own definition. I'm only describing the word as precisely as I can, because i do not have access to a decent dictionary currently, and only after showing that it's implied by the dictionary definitions still commonly given. But it is, very succinctly - connotation: alien element denotation: harmful. That's the core of the word, and that is the meaning you're generally going to find if you're reading important books on important subjects rather than millennial weblogpostings on the innertubes.
CO2 in the atmosphere is just not foreign matter. That doesn't mean that too much (or too little) of it couldn't be a problem, but we have a lot of different words for bad things for a reason and it's really not helpful to make them all into synonyms.
"I absolutely concede that adding CO2 to air is not something I would refer to as a prototypical example when explaining pollution. I would also concede that it makes more sense to say that the atmosphere is polluted, here, not the air, since CO2 in the given levels is not a problem for breathing, etc."
That may make more sense to you, but it's still not accurate.
This goes back to how important it is to accurately define the problem. Your first sentence is showing good instincts, but your second? Still twisting to find a way to make the wrong word fit. Depending, of course, on where you are, I'd imagine that neither the atmosphere, nor the air, is very polluted. Pollution was a huge problem back in the late 70s, most places I've been this century there's been little issue, a few areas around big cities certainly to the contrary, and keeping in mind I've never set foot in some of the places I expect the most serious issues are to be found, e.g. mainland China.
You're not talking about air quality though. CO2 levels could increase significantly without any real effect on air quality. As you say, 'not a problem for breathing, etc.' This is nothing like pollution.
Increasing the amounts of any constituent gas implicitly requires decreasing the amount of one or more other gases. Too much nitrogen? Well IIRC it's mostly a filler anyway, not a problem until it pushes something else too low, then THAT is the problem. Too much oxygen? HUGE problems, for us at least. Every little spark becomes a local blaze, every local blaze a regional conflagration, every regional conflagration a national catastrophe. Fires start easier, burn hotter, spread faster and further, and resist efforts to extinguish more effectively. Once burned, forests have difficulty recovering, all plants are choking on the oxygen and struggle to grow. Crank up the oxygen a bit more and say byebye to the last remnants of large multicellular life on dry land. However, under the surface of the oceans, safe from fire, life might benefit from the increased oxygen in unforseen ways.
Third in the list of things that are air, argon, a noble gas, so again we should be able to increase the amount quite a bit, as long as we don't depress something else too low in the process. You can kill with argon, you know, but it's the lack of oxygen that actually does the deed.
So what's that leave? Oh yeah, CO2. Increase that and what happens? You increase plant growth rates right off. Plants love CO2, they eat it all day long, and they shit oxygen. Keep cranking it up and that greenhouse effect might just ruin your day though.
Increasing the occurrence of any of these elements would be bad, but it would not be pollution.
If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
(Score: 2) by tfried on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:57AM
And you can't have missed my post(s) where I detailed that these definitions definitely do not mean what you would like them to mean. You tried to counter that using the funny argument that air and CO2 are logically "the same", and thus cannot be "mixed".
I'll stop trying to talk you out of that, but please stop pretending that made anything close to a coherent argument WRT the definition of pollution.
(Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Tuesday September 12 2017, @01:16PM (1 child)
Only if the total amount remains unchanged.
There no indication that the weight of the entire Earth atmosphere was...mmmm.... conserved.
Wrong, if your are given 95% oxygen and 5% carbon dioxide, you are likely to pass out - increased blood pressure and hyperventilation are the immediate effects. At 10% CO2, you'll be unconscious in minutes and dead in under one hour [cdc.gov], even if the rest of 90% is oxygen.
The respiratory reflexes [wikipedia.org] aren't governed by the low concentration of oxygen but by the increased concentration of CO2 [wikipedia.org] in the blood - this is why asphyxiation with inert gases is mostly used in euthanasia [wikipedia.org]
(Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12 2017, @07:28PM
Actually, at those levels, the oxygen itself would likely kill you:
(Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:42AM
And I'm telling you that "pollution" attached to "AGW" is a false problem. You can define the "pollution" term to God and one bus-stop beyond that and it won't get you any closer to solving, mellowing or adapting to GW.
Your grandfather would tell you "Sidetracked much? That's not funny"
I'm not a native English speaker, It doesn't stop me solving problems (and creating others, otherwise where's the fun in living?)
I can empathise with you in some respects (like "hacker" and "begging the question") but only in contexts the meaning really matter.
Yes, I agree that
but this happens mainly in US, a lot of the other countries know the difference between politics, science, fiction and Marvel-trash. As an example (not a proof), see TF-current-A.