Wednesday December 19, 2018
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Forget global warming, Artificial Photosynthesis breakthrough is here to save us

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

With increasing levels of harmful gases being released into the environment, the future, indeed, looks bleak.

Well, what about if we could ‘revamp’ those harmful gases into some highly useful things, like biofuels  or plastics?

The good thing is that a group of researchers have essentially taken cues from Mother Nature itself, and thus accomplished the impossible!

By the way, how have the scientists managed to achieve such a remarkable feat?

Here’s how:

The researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed the revolutionary system which essentially mimics photosynthesis.

The system collects Carbon Dioxide and other greenhouse gases before they are let loose into the atmosphere and converts them into acetate, a basic building block for organic compounds.

Then, the acetate can be used to manufacture a diverse array of chemicals, drugs and alternative fuels.

All this is done through creation of an ‘artificial forest’ of Silicon and Titanium Dioxide nanowires, which are seeded with bacterial populations.

Scientists believe that system has the potential to revolutionize the chemical and oil industry. The system can produce chemicals and fuels in a totally renewable way, rather than extracting them from deep below the ground.

So, is it time to say goodbye to greenhouse gases?

As of now, the system boasts of an efficiency of 0.38 per cent, close to the natural process of photosynthesis. However, researchers believe that soon they would manage to increase it to 3 per cent. And, the system would be embraced on a large scale once it begins to gain traction.

“Once we can reach a conversion efficiency of 10 per cent in a cost-effective manner, the technology should be commercially viable,” said Christopher Chang, a chemist and biosynthesis expert.

The environment can hopefully breathe easy now.

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European Union Agrees To Cut Greenhouse Gases Emission

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday.

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Emissions
In this slow-shutter zoom effect photo taken Dec. 12, 2018, commuters backed up in traffic during the morning rush hour, in Brussels, a city that regularly experiences pollution alert warnings. VOA

The European Union agreed Monday to a goal of cutting carbon emissions from cars by 37.5 percent in a decade, finally settling differences between vehicle-producing countries and environmentally-conscious lawmakers.

The 28-nation bloc has been divided for months over how strict to be on CO2 emissions from vehicles as part of its push to reduce greenhouse gases overall by 40 percent by 2030.

Germany, with the EU’s biggest auto sector worth some 423 billion euros ($480 billion) in 2017, had warned tough targets and the drive toward more electric cars could harm its industry and cost jobs.

Representatives of the European Parliament and the EU countries finally struck a compromise Monday, after nine hours of talks, to cut emissions from cars by 37.5 percent and vans by 31 percent by 2030 compared with 2021.

Climate, emissions
– Greenpeace activists wear white morphsuits as they stage an action against particulate matter and health burden caused by diesel exhaust in Stuttgart, southern Germany. VOA

There was also agreement on an interim target of a 15 percent cut for both cars and vans by 2025.

“This is an important signal in our fight against climate change,” said current EU president Austria’s Sustainability Minister Elisabeth Koestinger.

But Brussels-based green lobbying group Transport & Environment expressed disappointment the deal was not even more ambitious.

“Europe is shifting up a gear in the race to produce zero-emission cars. The new law means by 2030 around a third of new cars will be electric or hydrogen-powered,” said its clean vehicles director, Greg Archer. “That’s progress, but it’s not fast enough to hit our climate goals.”

The compromise was tougher than the original EU executive proposal of an emissions decline of 30 percent compared to 2021.

Climate change, emissions, Global Warming
U.N. Climate chief Patricia Espinosa (C) is flanked by officials during a press conference at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland, VOA

Germany had endorsed that, but a push by several EU countries, including the Netherlands and France, raised the target for EU countries to 35 percent. The EU Parliament had wanted 40 percent, so in the end, they split the difference.

The German automobile association (VDA) said the new legislation would set high demands while doing little to promote or provide incentives for switching to electric vehicles.

EU countries were among nearly 200 that agreed Saturday to rules for implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord at a U.N. conference in Poland.

Also Read: Governments Have Failed to Respond Adequately to Climate Change at The U.N. Conference: Activists

“Today’s successful outcome is even more important in view of this weekend’s conclusions … in Katowice. It clearly shows, once again, our unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement,” EU Climate Commissioner Arias Canete said.

EU countries are separately considering the extent to which truck emissions should be cut, with a debate due Thursday. (VOA)