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Tiny Molecular Bowls Pull Carbon Dioxide Out of the Air

Coal-fired Plant

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The discovery of a tiny bowl-shaped molecule which collects carbon dioxide right out of the air has beckoned some creative solutions to global warming.

By genetically engineering microbes to manufacture the handy molecule, scientists hope to make it useful as an industrial absorbent for CO2 capture. That could help clean up smokestacks from dirty coal-fired power plants, but it’s also possible that the molecules could be used for pulling carbon dioxide right out of the ambient air.

The molecule was discovered by accident during research entirely unrelated to global warming. A researcher noticed that carbon dioxide was collecting in the molecule, and realized that the only source for the CO2 had to be the surrounding air. The results were then tested on a larger level using computer models, and the tiny molecular bowls showed promise on a practical level.

Though of course, while the molecules appeared efficient at capturing CO2, they did not dispose of it. Thus, any notion they may lend toward the possibility of “clean coal” would be misleading. Technology such as this should be viewed as an aid in cleaning up the mess that’s already been made, not as an excuse to continue producing energy through dirty means.

Source: ScienceDaily

Image Credit: Rennett Stowe on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

 

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Written By

has been making up for lost time since finishing his graduate degree in Philosophy by traveling and working to change the world. He has worked with groups like The Sierra Club, Environment America & U.S. PIRG, Environment Oregon & OSPIRG, and Progressive Future on local and national political campaigns. His environmental journalism can be found throughout the web, which also includes regular contributions to MNN.com. Between adventure and activism, he currently can be found doing freelance writing from his home in Hawaii.

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