Plastic 'Sponge' Could Help Biofuels Scrub CO2 From The Environment. - Tree of Souls - An Avatar Community Forum
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Old 04-18-2010, 01:10 AM
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Default Plastic 'Sponge' Could Help Biofuels Scrub CO2 From The Environment.

Could tech like this be behind the filters in the exopacks in the movie?

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A new plastic membrane could be key to making biofuels a viable and clean fuel alternative to natural gas and coal.

The membrane could be a major advance in carbon capture -- it's four times better than current technologies at separating out CO2, one of the main culprits in global warming. The plastic acts as a molecular sponge, allowing only carbon dioxide to pass into it, while preventing larger molecules like methane from following suit.

"We've made a better mousetrap," said Benny Freeman, a University of Texas at Austin professor and co-author of a report on the material in Friday's issue of Science.

The plastic can handle 500 times more fuel than regular membranes while separating out molecules more efficiently, Freeman said.

Rising energy costs and an increased focus on pollution control have led scientists around the world to study semipermeable membranes (.pdf), which separate molecules from each other. Several teams in the United States, Europe and Australia, are working on CO2 separation membranes.

An international team from Hanyang University in South Korea, UT-Austin and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Australia developed the new natural gas filtering bioplastic.

Natural gas is actually fairly clean to process and burn. But collecting it damages the environment, and like all fossil fuels, limited supplies exist. As a result, many environmentalists advocate using "biogas," which can be made from manure and other types of waste. The problem -- which could be addressed by the new plastic -- is it contains high levels of CO2.

"The development is important in the context of the production of next-generation carbon-negative biofuels," wrote Biopact, a clean technology website.

Using a carbon capture system, biofuels manufacturers could sequester naturally occurring CO2, reducing the amount of total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Clean energy companies would like to scrub CO2 out of the fuel but carbon capture has been costly for fledgling ventures.

"It's too expensive to take the CO2 out," said Carsten Weber, project engineer for American Biogas, a subsidiary of the German company Ambico. "We modify our generators to run with the CO2 in the biogas."

The new technology would be much cheaper than current alternatives, Freeman said.

"You need 500x less membrane to treat the same amount of gas, so you could reduce your capital costs enormously," said Freeman.

While the researchers have shown that plastic can filter natural gas (and any other fuel containing methane), it might also work for making cleaner-burning coal, filtering water and in hydrogen fuel cells. The most immediate application of the technology, however, is increasing the efficiency, and cutting the costs of natural gas processing plants.

The seven natural gas processing plants in the United States already purify CO2 out of mostly methane raw gas using membranes made of cellulose acetate, one of the first bioplastics. Then they release that CO2 into the air. According to a Department of Energy report (.pdf), natural gas processing in 2004 produced a fairly meager 0.13 million metric tons of CO2. By comparison, Antarctica's roughly 1,000 temporary residents generated 0.24 million metric tons of CO2 in the same year.

The real environmental benefit of the plastic will come if it's used with biofuels, which could be just a few years away. "We're at the initial scientific discovery phase. It will take a couple years to get it off the bench and into pilot studies," Freeman said. "Field deployments would be five or six years from now."

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I ask because currently CO2 scrubbing is expensive, time consuming and require many processes, this tech however does not.

Anyhow this is proof of how technology can help save the environment, with tech like this it would be insane that we ever get to the point seen in the movie.
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Old 04-18-2010, 01:22 AM
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Lets see if the private sector pick up on it. If they do, we won't be seeing it in use for another 60 years. So, we need a government led initiative to put this technology into action.
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Old 04-18-2010, 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Spock View Post
Lets see if the private sector pick up on it. If they do, we won't be seeing it in use for another 60 years. So, we need a government led initiative to put this technology into action.
Dude put a sock on it, seriously...

The Government could entice corporations by giving incentives such as Tax breaks to companies that adopt Environmentally friendly technology such as this and more.
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Old 04-18-2010, 02:37 AM
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Nice

I think this is probably very similar to the exopack filter's design.
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Old 04-18-2010, 03:34 AM
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Nice

I think this is probably very similar to the exopack filter's design.
Most likely is a combination of gas absorbing compounds one for the CO2 and another for the Hydrogen sulfide. But more importantly is with tech like this we can apply it to scrub the CO2 already present in the atmosphere and along with planting trees will help curbstomp climate change at least man-made climate change anyway. It also shows how monumentally stupid the people of RDA Earth are since they have the tech to clean up the air. To clone just about anything including probably all the species that became extinct in short they are just idiots in that movie.
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Old 04-18-2010, 04:11 AM
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Cool, but I hope this won't be used as an excuse to not cut emissions/pollution. I don't want to have to wear an exopack made from these everyday!
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:08 PM
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Spock, PunkMaister, please keep it in the relevant threads. Thank you
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