Geoffrey Coates of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY suggested and emphasized to polymerize CO2 directly. The chemicals substances used in the CO2-based processes are obtained from fossil fuel origins. So it lessens the amount of petroleum used in these processes.
To fully eliminate the need of petroleum origin substances, he used epoxide. This substance was obtained from the oil present in orange peels and was used in the plastic manufacturing process by reacting with the CO2. Coates is actively engaged to commercialize CO2-based plastic materials and other environmentally friendly synthetic compounds. These materials are having good number of properties. The campaign is being run through a company called Novamer.
The amount of CO2 produced in the industries and plants is much higher than the demand and production of the polymers in the whole world. Only one solution to this problem could not be sufficient one. Coates said that the amount of carbon dioxide produced by combustion of fossil fuel could not be negated by a single process. Muller affirmed it with the statistics and said that in 2005, 260 millions of polymers were produced; on the other hand CO2 emissions were reported to be gone up to hundred times more than that.
Christopher Rayner who belongs to the University of Leeds (UK) pointed out the fact that the use of CO2 instead of petrochemical origin substances has another advantaging factor of increasing the lifetime of available petrochemical resources. He is also doing experiments and research to make formic acid from carbon dioxide and hydrogen. He is trying to produce the formic acid which could be used in fuel cells.
The carbon in CO2 is low in energy as we described earlier. Another technique is being adopted to provide the energy to carbon molecule present in CO2. This is performed by electrochemical cells. Electricity and catalyst are used to turn its chemical structure. CO2 is first converted into carbon monoxide and in the next step to a fuel such as methanol. Daniel Dubois is doing a research work on that process. He was also present in the meeting and representing Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Rayner said that electricity supply itself produces CO2 gas; which levels the results gained in the electrochemical process. He put the question to other scientists to provide a solution to that problem.
All we discussed above was the human being’s effort to remove CO2 from the air. But there is a common procedure which is always going on to strip CO2 out of the atmosphere. This process of converting CO2 gas into oxygen is happening on a large scale all over the globe. I am talking about plants; which do all that. They take the CO2 gas in their bodies all the day under the sunlight performing the photosynthesis process and build their cells and tissues by taking energy from the CO2 and sunlight.
Scientists are doing research work on transforming CO2 gas back to fuels. They are doing work on the concept of plant’s photosynthesis process. The low energy level of CO2 is raised through the energy in sunlight thus converting CO2 gas into higher-energy smaller molecules.
Some researches are trying to take advantage directly from plants. The plants are able to transform CO2 into useful molecules. It would be a challenging task to produce compounds which are economical as well. Muller told the amazing fact that no more than one percent of the sun’s energy is used by plants in their photosynthesis process. He also emphasized at the end that we should copy and learn from nature.