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posted by Fnord666 on Tuesday September 12 2017, @04:53AM   Printer-friendly
from the were-they-in-Denver? dept.

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.


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  • (Score: 2) by tfried on Tuesday September 12 2017, @10:35AM (4 children)

    by tfried (5534) on Tuesday September 12 2017, @10:35AM (#566668)

    Pollution is a clearly defined term, with a clearly defined meaning

    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.

    , 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.'

    The "something bad" is actually a core part of the term from early on. E.g. wiktionary says

    The meaning "that which makes physically foul" is from 1540s.

    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.

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  • (Score: 1) by Arik on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:07AM (3 children)

    by Arik (4543) on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:07AM (#566674) Journal
    "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."

    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

      by tfried (5534) on Tuesday September 12 2017, @11:57AM (#566693)

      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.

      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)

      by c0lo (156) on Tuesday September 12 2017, @01:16PM (#566710) Journal

      Increasing the amounts of any constituent gas implicitly requires decreasing the amount of one or more other gases.

      Only if the total amount remains unchanged.
      There no indication that the weight of the entire Earth atmosphere was...mmmm.... conserved.

      You can kill with argon, you know, but it's the lack of oxygen that actually does the deed.

      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]

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12 2017, @07:28PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 12 2017, @07:28PM (#566928)

        Actually, at those levels, the oxygen itself would likely kill you:

        http://science.howstuffworks.com/question493.htm [howstuffworks.com]