What's Up

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Are we getting closer to the edge of danger?

Don’t you know that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main cause of global warming which is more than 80 percent of gas emissions produced by big factories and manufacturing companies scattered throughout the country?

There are natural and human sources of carbon dioxide emissions. Natural sources include decomposition, ocean release and respiration. Human sources come from activities like cement production, deforestation as well as the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.

Due to human activities, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has been extensively rising since the Industrial Revolution and has now reached dangerous levels not seen in the last three million years. Human sources of carbon dioxide emissions are much smaller than natural emissions but they have upset the natural balance that existed for many thousands of years before the influence of humans.

This is because natural sinks remove around the same quantity of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than are produced by natural sources. This had kept carbon dioxide levels balanced and in a safe range. But human sources of emissions have upset the natural balance by adding extra carbon dioxide to the atmosphere without removing any.

The largest human source of carbon dioxide emissions is the combustion of fossil fuels. This produces 87% of human carbon dioxide emissions. Burning releases energy which is most commonly turned into heat, electricity or power for transportation. Some examples of where they are used are in power plants, cars, planes and industrial facilities. In 2011, fossil fuel use created 33.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

The three types of fossil fuels that are used the most are coal, natural gas and oil. Coal is responsible for 43% of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion, 36% is produced by oil and 20% from natural gas.

Coal is the most carbon intensive fossil fuel. For every ton of coal burned, approximately 2.5 tons of CO2 are produced. Because of its high rate of use, coal is the largest fossil fuel source of carbon dioxide emissions. It represents one-third of fossil fuels' share of world total primary energy supply.

The three main economic sectors that use fossil fuels are: electricity/heat, transportation and industry. The first two sectors, electricity/heat and transportation, produced nearly two-thirds of global carbon dioxide emissions in 2010.

Electricity and heat generation is the economic sector that produces the largest amount of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. This sector produced 41% of fossil fuel related carbon dioxide emissions in 2010. Around the world, this sector relies heavily on coal, the most carbon-intensive of fossil fuels, explaining this sector giant carbon footprint.

Almost all industrialized nations get the majority of their electricity from the combustion of fossil fuels (around 60-90%). Only Canada and France are the exception. Depending on the energy mix of your local power company you probably will find that the electricity that you use at home and at work has a considerable impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

Moved by this monstrous phenomenon, a foreign scientist revealed that he has invented a new technology that would reduce the growing global carbon dioxide emissions.

The said scientist, who requested anonymity, told Moving Shadows that he has been specializing in capturing carbon dioxide through an innovative membrane technology system.

“The technology can capture up to 80% of the carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, preventing the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere,” said the scientist.

He has adopted the membrane technology to selectively separate carbon dioxide from other components of a gas stream, acting at the same time as a filter to allow more carbon dioxide than nitrogen to pass through.

He said membrane technology is evaluated as an option having high potential, but still in the laboratory stage.

“Membrane technology is an advantage as it provides a promising approach for carbon dioxide capture from post-combustion flue gas due to its smaller footprint and potentially lower energy cost than the traditional amine scrubbing process,” quipped the scientist. 

On the other hand, the scientist revealed that polymer membranes are expensive and difficult for scale-up in a continuous manner and fabrication into a high packing density in terms of high surface area and volume due to their narrow diameter.

He said the new technology is suitable for a wide range of concentrations, less polluting, environment friendly, low system cost, less energy consumption, and good chemical and thermal resistance.

Photo by: Cire’ Gutang

According to him, this technology could overcome most of the obstacles faced by most existing technologies, including the currently available membrane technology. This was made possible by the innovative membrane material and system design.

Should we apply this technology, the scientist said the following benefits could be achieved:

1. Enables factory manufacturing rather than on-site manufacturing;

2. Enables flexible response to various CO2 capturing capacity demand by controlling the number of supplying units;

3. Allows generous location of an installation site due to flexible building block installation;

4. Allows immediate partial operation while building target capturing capacity. No need to wait operation until full target capacity is reached;

5. Likewise enables maintenance of units while allowing continued operation of other units;

6. Easy operation control as separation system is an aggregation of standardized modular unit.

Photo by: Cire’ Gutang

Meanwhile, foreign governments have recognized the skills of Filipino scientists that put our country in the world map. But are we only up to their recognition?

How about their inventions that would likewise prevent the serious impact of climate change?

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