University researchers have developed a Green Carbon Center.
The center evaluates the Earth's energy future by showing the
advantages of all energy sources like oil, coal, gas, biomass, solar,
geothermal and wind, and also looks for ways to put
carbon dioxide to good use.
Tour, lead author of the study and professor of mechanical
engineering, materials science and computer science at Rice
University, along with Vicki Colvin, Rice University's Pitzer-
Schlumberger Professor of Chemistry, and Carter Kittrell, a research
scientist at Rice University, have created a Green Carbon Center as a
"think tank" for the future of energy. They plan to focus
on the development of clean energy by assessing the benefits of all
types of energy and by recycling carbon dioxide into useful
percent of our country's energy comes from fossil fuels, and Houston
is the world capital of the industry that makes and produces and
transports those fossil fuels to all of us," said Colvin. "So
we are in a unique position as the leading university in Texas to
transform that industry, to develop it in a green way, to make it
sustainable and to teach people that just because it's carbon doesn't
mean it has an environmental
consequence, but it can in fact help us transition to a renewable
energy economy of the future."
main goal is to make carbon dioxide a useful material. To do this,
researchers would like to partner with energy companies of all sorts
- oil, coal, wind, solar, etc. - to find ways to make carbon dioxide
a "profitable resource."
want to say to the oil and gas and coal companies that even as we go
to renewable forms of energy, we need you," said Tour. "We
need oil for all of our manufacturable products - plastics and fibers
and building materials. We need coal for syngas and for the
manufacture of chemical compounds. And we need natural gas to provide
energy at least into the next century, as well as for the
production of hydrogen."
cleaner energy through a hydrogen-based energy economy is the ideal
future of energy, researchers noted that carbon-based energy will
still be needed, especially since American jobs depend on the
drilling and distribution of these fossil fuels.
keep carbon-based energy around without its harmful effects, Tour,
Colvin and Kittrell studied the separation of carbon dioxide
from hydrogen through
steam methane reformation, where carbon dioxide could be reused as a
basic feedstock for chemicals or momentarily sequestered in
tapped-out oil wells.
costs a lot to capture carbon dioxide and pump it underground, and
that can negate the advantages of sequestration," said Tour.
"But solar and wind power could replace coal-fired boilers to
compress and transport carbon dioxide."
ways in which carbon could become useful is to compress and liquify
it to replace water when enhancing oil and gas recovery. Also, carbon
could potentially replace harmful chlorocarbons as a refrigerant in
the dry cleaning business.
study was published Oct. 22 in Nature