2016-05-02. Researchers Aim to Put Carbon Dioxide Back to Work.

posted May 3, 2016, 10:10 AM by Alan Gould   [ updated May 3, 2016, 10:11 AM ]

By Henry Fountain, The New York Times. For GSS Climate Change chapter 9. Excerpt: BERKELEY, Calif. — Think, for a moment, of carbon dioxide as garbage, a waste product from burning fossil fuels. Like other garbage, almost all of that CO2 is thrown away — into the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change. A small amount is captured and stored underground to keep it out of the air. But increasingly, scientists are asking, rather than throwing away or storing CO2, how about recycling some of it? ...the ultimate goal of researchers in this field is to turn the waste product of fuel-burning into new fuel. In theory, if this could be done on a large scale using renewable energy or even sunlight, there would be no net gain of emissions — the same carbon dioxide molecules would be emitted, captured, made into new fuels and emitted again, over and over. ...Carbon dioxide is used to make some basic products like urea fertilizer and specialty plastics. But the processes are not necessarily energy efficient, and almost all use CO2 from natural underground reservoirs. Even if companies started using carbon dioxide that was captured, the amount would be less than 0.5 percent of the roughly 32 billion metric tons of CO2 emitted annually by human activity. ...But developing devices that can efficiently and economically convert large amounts of CO2 will require overcoming many hurdles, not the least of which is all the energy required to split carbon dioxide molecules....  http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/03/science/carbon-dioxide-recycling.html