Posted by Phil Patterson
Carbon Capture MOFs
I went Skiing this year. Booked a flight to a traditionally snow sure alpine resort, and off we went. A potentially terrific holiday that was unfortunately missing one key component – snow!!
Not even a suggestion of powdery white trails; an entire industry based upon reliance on a key commodity arriving annually is struggling badly. Now, we passed the time well – but it just wasn’t the same.
Most concerning, speaking to the resort staff – this wasn’t a one-off. For five consecutive years, heavy snow conditions have been confined to a small window.
For me, that brought the concept of global warming from ethereal to being very real indeed.
What is Climate Change?
Arguably expedited by the advent of the industrial revolution circa 1760-1840, climate change is a gradual warming of the earths atmospheric temperature brought about by the burning of fossil fuels, which emit so called “Greenhouse Gases”.
The core atmospheric temperature of the earth is 1.2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels. In 2016, the world arguably hit a climate change milestone; air concentration hit a median base level of 400 carbon dioxide PPM (parts per million), this is considered as a point of no return by scientists.
The five-year period 2011-2015 was the hottest on record. Not to be outdone, 2016 was the single hottest year since records began.
What is being done?
In theory, all sorts of things. Generally focussed on limiting the use of fossil fuels in industrial processes, and encouraging a change towards renewal energies like solar, wind and hydrothermal.
There is a global accord on climate change that meets annually in Paris, known as COP. In the UK, climate change has been on the agenda since 2008 with the “Low Carbon Economy” initiative.
Is it working?
Almost certainly not – and even if it is, it is not working fast enough to affect real change. The obvious empirical evidence already mentioned; 400 carbon PPM, 2016 being the hottest year on record and, most importantly, my ski holiday, suggests that existing policy is unlikely to affect real change in a reasonable time scale.
It gets worse – business is, at the end of the day, business. Change in industrial processes is expensive and requires a degree of ethical concern. As recently as March 2017, Donald Trump has signalled his intent to prioritise profit above change by lifting embargos on coal use – he fundamentally considers climate change to be a “hoax”.
Living in a Greenhouse
Most shockingly, a genuinely joined up global solution is required. Action in the UK will do no good if it is isolated; emission intensities in industrial Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Beijing are around the 1000kg per mega watt hour mark. Wind power produces around 350kg per mega watt hour – but in order to affect real chance, a global average of 80kg is required for energy production. Stark stuff.
A shift in focus?
Efforts on climate change are focussed on limiting the amount of industrially produced carbon. Fine. But that is very difficult to implement.
At MOF Technologies, we believe the future of climate change is through Carbon Capture. Capturing the emissions at source before environmental damage is done – that is why we are collaborating with the University of Limerick (http://www.irishtimes.com/business/innovation/mof-technologies-to-license-material-that-captures-greenhouse-gases-1.3022589) to affect real change on this. TIFSIX, Mg-Mof74 and PCN250 are all examples of MOFs that are excellent for DAC (Direct Air Capture) because of their massive surface area and porous nature.
As far back as 2012, MOFs were on the radar of the American Chemical Society:
“a family of miracle materials called MOFs have a bright future in products and technologies…muting the effects of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide”
Indeed, why not alter the global focus to affect quick change; capturing carbon will surely deliver faster change than eliminating it.