Concerns over the amount of carbon dioxide released by drilling for natural gas could be eased by a new material created from inexpensive asphalt, the same substance used to pave roads.
Researchers at Rice University have created an extremely porous material that captures about 114 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide, the principle greenhouse gas which scientists believe is causing Earth’s climate to gradually warm.
When placed on the head of a natural gas well, the material known as asphalt-porous carbon naturally soaks up carbon dioxide released by drilling. After gas has been extracted from the well, the carbon dioxide stored in the material can be returned underground or piped off for storage somewhere else.
The material was first created by mixing asphalt with potassium hydroxide at high temperature, creating an extremely porous material that had a surface area of nearly three square meters per gram. That original material captured ninety-three percent of its weight in carbon.
After researchers combined that material with ammonia and hydrogen, its storage capacity increased to 114 percent of its weight.
In her Big Think interview, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson explains that global warming is much more than an environmental issue. It’s a human rights issue:
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