Turn America’s innovators loose on greenhouse gases

There is some promising research going on related to containing carbon dioxide.

Turn America’s innovators loose on greenhouse gases

Assuming that reducing greenhouse gases are an ongoing challenge, we need government policies and the “political will” to turn our nation’s entrepreneurs and researchers lose to take risks and innovate.

We must establish reasonable laws and regulations that also protect our environment and our citizens’ health and safety while providing jobs and affordable products — no easy task.

Science Daily has published some promising research relating to carbon dioxide. Here are three examples:

First, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a membrane that separates carbon dioxide emitted from large power plants into cleaner fuels for cars, trucks, and planes as well as into chemical feedstocks for a wide variety of products.

Xiao-Yu Wu and Ahmed Ghoniem’s membrane allows oxygen contained in the contaminated air to migrate through to the other side, leaving carbon monoxide behind. Carbon monoxide can be used as a fuel by itself or combined with hydrogen and water to make methanol.

Second, Harvard researcher Haotian Wang is working on a catalytic reactor which captures large quantities of greenhouse gases and converts them into industrial fuels and chemicals. Only emit oxygen is emitted. It functions similar to the catalytic converters on our cars only it would be attached to the factory or power plant exhaust stacks.

Third, Finnish scientists built a test facility which produces 200 litres (53 gallons) of fuel each day. The product can be used as motor fuels and other hydrocarbons. It was developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT).

The demo plant consists of four separate units: a solar power plant; equipment for separating carbon dioxide and water from the air; a section that uses electrolysis to produce hydrogen; and, synthesis equipment for producing a crude-oil substitute from carbon dioxide and hydrogen.

The facility is located adjacent to the LUT solar power farm near Lappeenranta, a city the size of Yakima and located in southeastern Finland near the Russian border.

All three projects show promise on a small scale. The key is to build them to commercial size and make them dependable and economical.

Here is an example of an innovation which worked in our state.

In 1999, Georgia Pacific Gypsum took byproducts from the desulphurization of emissions of the TransAlta coal plant, hauled them to Tacoma and made commercial grade synthetic gypsum. It was an alternative to mined gypsum and was highly desirable raw material for wallboard manufactures because it is cheaper and easier to process.

The GP plant employed over 100 workers and took 35 truckloads of material which would have been landfilled.

While CO2 is deaminized today, we need to remember it is essential to many industrial and commercial products. Carbon dioxide-based fire extinguishers effectively manage electrical fires and those caused by solvents, fuels and oils.

It is used for water treatment plants and to keep food cold (dry ice). CO2 cools, pressurizes and purges household and commercial equipment. It also accelerates plant growth in nurseries and used in the electronics industry for circuit board assembly, to clean surfaces and in the manufacture of semiconductor devices.

ClimateTechWiki reports about 3,000 species out of 200,000 algae species were found to be useful for sequestration of CO2 and can produce biodiesel.

So, what if CO2-dependent businesses were encouraged to site their operations near major greenhouse gas emitters? Wouldn’t they substantially cut CO2 releases, result in new products and created additional jobs?

We need to look for innovative ways to develop new products and solve problems rather than simply forcing government to ban products, processes and stifle creativity. Americans are great innovators and we ought to let them do what they do best.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at theBrunells@msn.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in Business

Don Brunell
E-waste reduction requires innovative approaches | Brunell

Less than 13 percent of electronics are recycled — the rest is dumped.

Don Brunell
Boeing’s good news | Brunell

Boeing’s revamped 737MAX to ready to return to service.

Venise Cunningham and Belinda Kelly celebrating the opening of their new restaurant and bar, the Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop in Wilkeson. Contributed photo
Simple Goodness Sisters Soda Shop opens in Wilkeson

There’s sodas for the kids, cocktails for the adults, and ice cream and sandwiches to round out the family-friendly vibe of the new shop.

Don Brunell
Coronavirus spurring air cargo growth | Brunell

Air cargo sector has retained 92 percent of its business during the pandemic.

Melisa Kahne makes all of her own products, which can be bought online or even at Nature's Inventory, another shop on Cole Street. Contributed photo
The business of beauty: how Kanary Naturals began

The story of how an entrepreneur had to completely change how she did business.

Don Brunell
Diversity in America’s military | Don Brunell

A history of integration on America’s military.

These are just a sample of Blaze Ward and Leah Cutter's many, many book series. The two Enumclaw authors also write non-fiction books about how to write and make it your business, and collaborate on a number of anthology magazines. Contributed images
Enumclaw authors explain how to write (and make money doing it)

Leah Cutter and Blaze Wars have always wanted to be writers and storytellers. And, thanks to independent publishing, are able to live off of their works.

Image courtesy Enumclaw Chamber of Commerce
Enumclaw Chamber launches new “Imbibe Tour”

The tour takes you across Enumclaw’s seven breweries and wineries.

Enumclaw businesses were able to apply for a $7,000 grant from the city of Enumclaw last September. It was recently discovered at least two businesses did apply, but their application was lost due to a technological error. Image courtesy the city of Enumclaw
More businesses get COVID funds

A tech error led to at least two local businesses’ grant application to the city of Enumclaw getting lost.

Don Brunell
Defunding the police is a bad idea | Brunell

Seattle now has one of the lowest ratios of cops to citizens of major U.S. cities.

Don Brunell
President uses rare order to break China’s hammerlock on critical metals | Brunell

The only American rare earth mine is located in California, but it has to be processed in Canada.

Mail Express was fined $7,500 by L&I. Photo by Ray Miller-Still
Local business fined by LI for failing to wear, enforce masks

The Mail Express Business Center was fined $7,500, the most of 11 businesses.