Image courtesy of C.P.Storm via flickr
What if reducing your emissions could be as easy as watching a DVD or listening to a new CD? We may not be there yet - and probably won't be for the next few years - but two chemists, presenting their findings at the 235th annual meeting of the American Chemical Society, have described different ways by which carbon dioxide captured from smokestacks could eventually become incorporated into the production of DVDs, bottles and other polycarbonate plastics.Thomas E. Müller, a scientist at the research center for catalysis, CAT, said that the supply of readily available carbon dioxide would provide a "very cheap starting material" that could replace some of the costlier ones and seed the necessary "economic driving force" to bring the process to mass market. A Japanese research team from the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, led by Toshiyasu Sakaura, also found that using carbon dioxide as an alternate "feedstock" to make plastics and battery components was a cost-effective, easy process.
Müller believes polycarbonates could serve as effective carbon sinks for the millions of tons of emissions spewed by coal-fired plants; assuming the price tag for any such technology is within limits - and that the capacity for economies of scale exists - it could, as he states, be a "significant contribution" towards global efforts to slash carbon emissions.
So when might we see these new waste-CO2 bottles or DVDs? Sooner than you might expect - according to Müller, it may only be a "matter of a few years" before they become available to the public.