What if the byproducts of energy production that typically harm the environment could actually be captured to create more energy? Not only does that system help protect the Earth, it also increases the yield of traditional power plants. Although it sounds too good to be true, researchers have recently discovered a technique that allows them to pull it off.
Their system is able to harness carbon emissions from power plants, recycle them, and use the process to generate power. Although it isn’t a better solution than transitioning to zero-emission energy production, it is certainly better than nothing.
It’s no secret that producing electricity is dirty business. Traditional power plants emit tons of waste and byproducts as a result of the process. Since humans have been doing it for decades, however, the idea of capturing these emissions isn’t groundbreaking.
In fact, some perfectly operational carbon capture systems have been invented and put into use. The issue is that they require a massive amount of energy in the form of heat to operate. Obviously, this is a bit of a paradox. To capture emissions from energy production, you have to produce more energy to power the system, thus producing more waste. As a result, typical carbon capture systems aren’t cost-effective or feasible in most situations.
According to researchers from Japan’s Nagoya University, there is a better way. They recently published a paper in the journal ACS Sustainable Chemical Engineering that explains their process.
In a nutshell, the new system works at a much lower temperature than traditional carbon capture setups. Therefore, it requires less energy and becomes a feasible solution for power plants. The carbon dioxide emissions from a plant are reacted with hydrogen to form combustible bits of fuel like methane or gasoline.
Those products can then be used to continue fueling the power plant’s operations, allowing it to generate even more electricity. Best yet, its carbon byproducts aren’t released into the atmosphere.
Good, Not Great, Solution
While the new technique shown off by researchers is impressive, it isn’t a perfect way to battle the world’s climate crisis. Burning carbon-containing materials to generate energy will always have a negative impact on the environment. Only by finding cleaner methods can humanity decrease its environmental footprint.
Fortunately, momentum is building worldwide for alternative energy solutions. Startups, established corporations, and even individual researchers are constantly coming up with new ways to generate power.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has largely been shut down. As it reopens, now is a perfect time to start implementing cleaner methods of energy production. Areas like wind and solar are expected to boom in the coming years. Meanwhile, more unique methods like harnessing rainfall to create electricity are coming to light.
As the world transitions to cleaner energy, solutions like this carbon capture system will be vital ways to limit environmental damage in the short-term.