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Capturing carbon with clever trapdoors

November 8, 2012 11:22 am | News | Comments

One method of capturing carbon dioxide is through molecular sieve that is an ultra-fine filter system that captures a variety of molecules that need further filtering. Engineers in Australia have developed new sieve that allows only carbon dioxide molecules to be trapped and stored, helping to eliminate the cost and energy typically required for filtering.

Air pollution study clears the air on diesel versus gas emissions

October 23, 2012 9:49 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Secondary organic aerosol (SOA) is a major component of smog, and people have long argued whether large diesel trucks are a bigger source of this pollution than gasoline-fueled cars. Recent University of California Berkeley research shows that diesel exhaust contributes 15 times more than gas emissions per liter of fuel burned, and can be responsible for a majority of a region’s SOA.

Food vs. fuel: Is there surplus land for bioenergy?

October 18, 2012 8:37 am | News | Comments

Increasing demand for bioenergy feedstock is generating land-use conflicts and food vs. fuel controversies. An team of 11 scientists from seven European countries and the United States have recently published a study that gives scientific background to the debate. It supports a reassessment of the land available for bioenergy feedstock production.

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Elevated indoor carbon dioxide impairs decision-making performance

October 18, 2012 8:04 am | News | Comments

Overturning decades of conventional wisdom, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that moderately high indoor concentrations of carbon dioxide can significantly impair people's decision-making performance. The results were unexpected and may have particular implications for schools and other spaces with high occupant density.

The mathematics of leaf decay

October 4, 2012 4:48 am | by Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

The natural decay of organic carbon contributes more than 90% of the yearly carbon dioxide released into Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Understanding the rate at which leaves decay can help scientists predict this global flux of carbon dioxide. But a single leaf may undergo different rates of decay depending on a number of variables. Researchers have just built a mathematical model that incorporates these variables, and have discovered a commonality within the diversity of leaf decay.

The chemical memory of seawater

October 2, 2012 8:52 am | News | Comments

Water does not forget, says Prof. Boris Koch, a chemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. With the combination of some new techniques, Koch and colleagues can now identify and retrace some of the biomolecular tracks left by living organism. This dissolved organic matter, detectable with mass spectrometry, is one of the largest active, organic carbon reservoirs on earth.

Engineers mine big data to faster assess carbon footprints

September 13, 2012 11:28 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Columbia University have developed a new software that can simultaneously calculate the carbon footprints of thousands of products faster than ever before. The software complies with the latest product LCA guidelines sponsored by the World Resources Institute, and any carbon footprint it calculates can easily be audited against this standard.

Methane source discovered in the underbrush

September 7, 2012 9:46 am | News | Comments

Some six years ago scientific textbooks had to be updated because of the surprising discovery made by a research group in Germany led by Frank Keppler that plants produce methane in an oxygen-rich environment. It had been previously thought that biogenic methane could only be formed during the decomposition of organic material under strictly anoxic conditions. Now, Keppler’s group has now made another fascinating new observation: Fungi produce methane.

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Study: More carbon dioxide leads to less clouds

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | News | Comments

It is common knowledge that the warmer the air, the more water can evaporate. Researchers in Europe have now established that this is not always the case: Although an increase in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide makes the climate warmer, it also allows less water to evaporate. This finding has informed a set of new calculations for climate modeling.

Atmospheric heating by black carbon aerosol re-evaluated

August 31, 2012 6:40 am | News | Comments

Viewed as a potential target in the global effort to reduce climate change, atmospheric black carbon particles absorb significantly less sunlight than scientists have predicted. In the first field study of it kind, researchers found that soot particles absorb significantly less sunlight than predicted by models, raising new questions about the impact of black carbon on atmospheric warming.

Speeding the search for better carbon capture

August 21, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers helped develop the first computational model to accurately predict the interactions between flue gases and a special variety of the carbon dioxide-capturing molecular systems known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). This new model should greatly accelerate the search for new low-cost and efficient ways to burn coal without exacerbating global climate change.

Are methane hydrates dissolving?

August 13, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

The average temperature of oceans is rising along with the temperatures in the atmosphere, raising concern that ice-like compounds called methane hydrates could dissolve this powerful greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. An expedition to Spitsbergen in the high Arctic could help answer this question.

Earth still absorbing carbon dioxide even as emissions rise

August 1, 2012 11:40 am | News | Comments

Despite sharp increases in carbon dioxide emissions by humans in recent decades that are warming the planet, Earth’s vegetation and oceans continue to soak up about half of them, according to a new study which showed global carbon dioxide uptake by Earth’s sinks essentially doubled from 1960 to 2010.

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X-rays pave way for low cost, large scale carbon capture

August 1, 2012 4:17 am | News | Comments

Current techniques for post-combustion carbon capture filter out carbon dioxide from a power plant’s flue gases as they travel up a chimney. These methods can prevent 80 to 90% of a power plant’s carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere, but researchers in the U.K. are trying to improve on that, using their nation’s synchrotron to determine the mechanism for the use of calcium oxide-based material as carbon dioxide sorbents.

How carbon is stored in the Southern Ocean

July 30, 2012 10:04 am | by Huw Morgan | News | Comments

The Southern Ocean is an important carbon sink. Around 40% of the annual global carbon dioxide emissions absorbed by the world’s oceans enter through this region. A team of British and Australian scientists has recently discovered how this carbon is drawn down from the surface of the Southern Ocean to the deep waters beneath.

New carbon accounting method to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use

July 18, 2012 7:27 pm | News | Comments

In 2011, corn was planted on more than 92 million acres in the U.S. Because corn is a nitrogen-loving plant, farmers must use synthetic nitrogen fertilizer to their fields every year to achieve their crop target. However, nitrogen is hard to contain and can negatively affect the environment. Researchers have come up with a solution, however, and it’s tied to the relationship between nitrates and nitrous oxide emissions.

Seagrasses can store as much carbon as forests

May 22, 2012 12:45 pm | News | Comments

The first global analysis of carbon stored in seagrasses has revealed a surprising figure. While a typical terrestrial forest stores about 30,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer, most of which is in the form of wood, coastal seagrasses can account for 83,000 metric tons of carbon per square kilometer. Their global impact is significant as well.

Commercial building owners can save big with energy controls

April 20, 2012 7:58 am | News | Comments

According to a recent report from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, U.S. commercial building owners could save an average of 38% on their heating and cooling bills if they installed a handful of energy efficiency controls that make their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems more energy efficient.

Monitoring system clarifies murky atmospheric carbon questions

April 19, 2012 2:14 pm | News | Comments

A University of Colorado Boulder-led team has developed a new monitoring system to analyze and compare emissions from man-made fossil fuels and trace gases in the atmosphere, a technique that likely could be used to monitor the effectiveness of measures regulating greenhouse gases.

Report: Diesel technologies drastically cut emissions

April 18, 2012 5:34 am | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State University shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides—pollutants that have significant human health and environmental impacts.

Greenhouse gas can find a home underground

March 20, 2012 4:19 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that there is enough capacity in deep saline aquifers in the United States to store at least a century's worth of carbon dioxide emissions from the nation's coal-fired power plants. Though questions remain about the economics of systems to capture and store such gases, this study addresses a major issue that has overshadowed such proposals.

Lab partners with Native American carbon researchers

February 22, 2012 7:04 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and a team of American Indian scientists and engineers have partnered to study the possible use of Black Earth technology, or Cpryo, to help mitigate the uptake of radiocesium in locally grown foods in the Marshall Islands.

Carbon dioxide is 'driving fish crazy'

January 20, 2012 12:29 pm | News | Comments

An international scientific team has found that rising human carbon dioxide emissions may be affecting the brains and central nervous system of sea fishes. This unusual conclusion was brought about by the first evidence obtained that high carbon dioxide levels in sea water disrupts a key brain receptor in fish, caused detrimental changes in behavior.

UN: Concentrations of greenhouse gases hit record

November 22, 2011 5:30 am | News | Comments

Carbon dioxide levels for 2010 have recently been release by the World Meteorological Organization. They show that CO 2 levels are now at 389 parts per million, up from about 280 parts per million 250 years ago. Also, levels are up 2.3 parts per million from 2009.

Midwest has potential to store hundreds of years of carbon dioxide emissions

November 17, 2011 8:54 am | News | Comments

Geologic capacity exists to permanently store hundreds of years of regional carbon dioxide emissions in nine states stretching from Indiana to New Jersey, according to injection field tests conducted by the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP).

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