10 04 2008

A worker at a steel mill in India.India’s electricity appetite is exploding. A worker at a steel mill in India. (Credit: Scott Eells for The New York Times)

The troubling tension between propelling prosperity and limiting climate risks in a world still wedded to fossil fuels is on full display this week. India’s Tata Power group just gained important financial backing from the International Finance Corporation, a branch of the World Bank, for its planned $4 billion, 4-billion watt “Ultra Mega” coal-burning power plant complex in Gujarat state.


silk purses from sows’ ears?

New plastics dervied from CO2 emissions could fight global warming
April 10, 2008

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Efforts to slow global warming by “scrubbing” carbon dioxide smokestack emissions could generate a material for the production of DVDs, beverage bottles and other products made from polycarbonate plastics, say chemists speaking at the 235th annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Thomas E. Müller and Dr. Toshiyasu Sakakura said that polycarbonate plastics made from CO2 could be cheaper, greener, and safer that conventional plastics.

“Carbon dioxide is so readily available, especially from the smokestack of industries that burn coal and other fossil fuels,” said Müller. “And it’s a very cheap starting material. If we can replace more expensive starting materials with CO2, then you’ll have an economic driving force.”

Sakakura, of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, said that CO2 could be used as a feedstock to change carbonates and urethanes into plastics and battery components.

Müller said that polycarbonate products — which could include eyeglass lenses, DVDs and CDs, and beverage bottles, among others — have great potential for removing million tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“Using CO2 to create polycarbonates might not solve the total carbon dioxide problem, but it could be a significant contribution,” he said, adding that polycarbonates derived from CO2 emissions could reach the market within a “few years.”


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