Waste Milk Could Be Used to Reduce Power Plant CO2 Emissions, Says Clarkson University Research

Clarkson University research is featured on the front cover of the November issue of Advanced Sustainable Systems. The stylized cover artwork (above) features a North Country landmark, the surge tank of a Raquette River hydroelectric plant in nearby Hannawa Falls, where both of the paper’s authors reside. (Photo credit: J. Pokrzywinski, D. Aulakh, W. Verdegaal, V.H. Pham, H. Bilan, S. Marble, D. Mitlin, M. Wriedt: “Dry and Wet CO2 Capture from Milk-Derived Microporous Carbons with Tuned Hydrophobicity.” Advanced Sustainable Systems. 2020. Volume 4. Issue 11. Pages 207022. Copyright Wiley-VCH GmbH. Reproduced with permission.)

Clarkson University research is featured on the front cover of the November issue of Advanced Sustainable Systems. The stylized cover artwork (above) features a North Country landmark, the surge tank of a Raquette River hydroelectric plant in nearby Hannawa Falls, where both of the paper’s authors reside. (Photo credit: J. Pokrzywinski, D. Aulakh, W. Verdegaal, V.H. Pham, H. Bilan, S. Marble, D. Mitlin, M. Wriedt: “Dry and Wet CO2 Capture from Milk-Derived Microporous Carbons with Tuned Hydrophobicity.” Advanced Sustainable Systems. 2020. Volume 4. Issue 11. Pages 207022. Copyright Wiley-VCH GmbH. Reproduced with permission.)

Potsdam, NY, Nov. 30, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Clarkson University research, which shows how surplus milk may be used to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil‐fuel based power plant emissions, is featured on the front cover of the November issue of  Advanced Sustainable Systems.

The stylized cover artwork features a North Country landmark, the surge tank of a Raquette River hydroelectric plant in nearby Hannawa Falls, where two of the paper’s authors reside.

Two major sources of greenhouse gases are CO2 emissions from fossil-based power plants and methane emissions from cattle. There is a strong scientific consensus that emissions like these are causing human-induced climate change.

The article, “CO2 Capture: Dry and Wet CO2 Capture from Milk‐Derived Microporous Carbons with Tuned Hydrophobicity,” explains that it is possible to greatly reduce power plant CO2 emissions by using surplus or waste milk from cows to create activated carbons, which will adsorb or scrub the CO2 from the output.

“Our challenge was to create an inexpensive ‘green’ activated carbon,” says co-author Associate Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science and Kodak CAMP Distinguished Professor Mario Wriedt. “Powdered milk can be converted into advanced activated carbons with the right porosity and surface chemistry to adsorb the CO2, allowing much better control than with the current materials used for this process, like coconut shells or coal.”

This is the first report of state-of-the-art performance for an activated carbon derived from a natural compound. The process for making the sorbents is similar to what is done to roast coffee, but with a secondary agent that etches nanoscale holes onto the material.

“Think of extremely dark roast holey coffee beans,” says co-author University of Texas at Austin and former Clarkson Professor David Mitlin. “The nanoscale holes, because of their strict sizes and surface chemistry, are very effective in trapping CO2 while keeping out water vapor. The CO2 is trapped reversibly in the

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South Korean scientists find way to extract carbon emissions from exhaust gas

Nov. 23 (UPI) — South Korean researchers say they have developed technology that can draw out carbon dioxide from industrial emissions and convert the climate-warming gas into calcium carbonate, which then can be adapted for different uses.

Koh Dong-yeun and his team at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, KAIST, said they have developed a device to convert carbon dioxide into solid materials, which can be used to make cement and other materials, Aju Daily and Yonhap reported Monday.

The statement from KAIST comes two months after Koh and his team published their findings to the online site of ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, a peer-reviewed journal.

“The technology helps power plants, steel mills and cement makers, which emit a lot of greenhouse gas, to increase their competitiveness by reducing emission and recycling resources,” Koh said, according to Aju Daily.

The scientists said an ultrapermeable membrane is the foundation of a “hollow fiber module” at the core of the technology, which can be used on factory chimneys.

“We show that a hollow fiber module based on an ultrapermeable membrane synthesized with the polymers of intrinsic microporosity [PIM-1] has the potential to directly utilize [carbon dioxide] from the flue [exhaust] gas stack via a continuous solid carbonation reaction,” the South Korean team said.

Only carbon dioxide can cross the module’s membrane. Once on the other side, carbon dioxide reacts with alkali metal ions to form calcium carbonates, the scientists said, according to Yonhap.

The team at KAIST also said the hollow fiber module is 20 times smaller than conventional devices, according to Aju Daily.

Carbon dioxide in emissions is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. This weekend, the Arctic Circle was an average 12 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, according to the University of Maine’s Climate Reanalyzer, CBS News reported Monday.

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This Year’s Emissions Drop Is a ‘Tiny Blip,’ UN Agency Says

(Bloomberg) — Human emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change will fall between 4.2% and 7.5% this year due to the global industrial slowdown caused by coronavirus lockdowns.

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But carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will continue to go up, albeit at a slightly reduced pace, according to preliminary data by the World Meteorological Organization released on Monday. The short-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic can’t be distinguished from natural variability, the United Nations agency said.

“The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph,” WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said in a statement. “We need a sustained flattening of the curve.”

Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries, and in the ocean for even longer. That means concentrations of the warming gas will continue to rise for years, even if human emissions fall or are brought to a halt. In 2019, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere breached a new threshold of 410 parts per million, from 400 parts per million in 2015, according to the WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released on Monday.

“Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records,” Taalas said. “The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO₂ was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now —but there weren’t 7.7 billion inhabitants.”



chart, pie chart: Heating Power


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Heating Power

Concentrations of CO₂ in the atmosphere were 48% higher in 2019 than 1750, according to the report. The increase observed from 2018 to 2019 was larger than that observed during the previous one-year period, and larger than the average over the last decade.

Methane presence in the atmosphere were up by 160% from pre-industrial times, while nitrous oxide was up 23%.

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White ‘cooling paint’ could slash carbon emissions from buildings

White 'cooling paint' could slash carbon emissions from buildings
White ‘cooling paint’ could slash carbon emissions from buildings

Buildings are a significant source of carbon emissions, particularly in the summer when enormous amounts of energy are required to keep the indoor space at a comfortable temperature. While industrial cooling systems are becoming more efficient and energy-conserving over time, researchers from Purdue University have created a simple solution that could drastically slash carbon emissions from buildings.

The researchers published their study in Cell Reports Physical Science, which details their eco-friendly invention: white paint that can keep buildings cool. This paint contains calcium carbonate, an abundant compound found in seashells and rocks, which creates a cooling effect because it absorbs almost no UV radiation due to its atomic structure.

Approximately 95.5 per cent of sunlight is reflected by the paint, which outperformed commercial white paint that only reflected 87.2 per cent of the sunlight. The effect of the cooling paint was significant — buildings were up to 10°C cooler than their ambient surroundings during the night and at least 1.7°C below the ambient temperature when the Sun was at its peak.

“Your air conditioning kicks on mainly due to sunlight heating up the roof and walls and making the inside of your house feel warmer. This paint is basically creating free air conditioning by reflecting that sunlight and offsetting those heat gains from inside your house,” said Joseph Peoples, a Purdue Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering and a co-author of the study, in the university’s press release.

cool paint purdue university
cool paint purdue university

Purdue researchers Xiulin Ruan (left) and Joseph Peoples using an infrared camera to compare the cooling performance of white paint samples on a rooftop. Credit: Purdue University/Jared Pike

In addition to preventing the need for air conditioning that is typically fueled by carbon-emitting fossil fuels, the researchers say that their cooling paint sends the sunlight’s heat into deep space. The cooling paint’s calcium carbonate scatters the sunlight’s wavelengths so that it can exit through part of the atmosphere, which is known as an atmospheric window, so it does not warm up the Earth’s surface. The cooling paint’s heat-reflective ability is a key feature that commercial white paints lack.

“We’re not moving heat from the [Earth’s] surface to the atmosphere. We’re just dumping it all out into the universe, which is an infinite heat sink,” said Xiangyu Li, a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and contributor to this study.

The researchers say that there is potential for this paint to be successfully applied on several surfaces including roads, roofs, and cars, which could have a significant global cooling effect. A study published in Nature Geoscience found that creating lighter surfaces could help to lower extreme temperatures by up to 3°C in cities, such as New York City, during the summer months, which would improve public health and lower both electricity usage and carbon emissions.

Canadians spend 90 per cent of their time indoors and in 2018, residential, commercial and industrial buildings accounted for 17 per

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Regenerated forests offset 12% of carbon emissions in Brazilian Amazon in 33 years

Regenerated forests offset 12% of carbon emissions in Brazilian Amazon in 33 years
A study quantified the size and age of the forests that grow naturally in degraded and abandoned areas, creating 131 benchmark maps for Brazil. The Amazon has the most restored forests and the Atlantic Rainforest biome has the oldest Credit: Tropical Ecosystems and Environmental Sciences Laboratory – INPE

Secondary forests play an important part in carbon capture because they tend to absorb a larger amount of carbon than they lose to the atmosphere. However, the size and average age of these often abandoned areas where vegetation grows back were unknown until now. In a study recently published in the journal Scientific Data, a group led by two researchers at Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) quantified these variables and found that the estimated carbon uptake by secondary forests throughout Brazil offset 12% of the carbon emissions due to deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon alone in a 33-year period.


The study was supported by FAPESP via two projects. The first project began in 2017 and is led by Luciana Vanni Gatti. The second began in 2019 and is led by Luiz Eduardo Oliveira e Cruz de Aragão.

“The capacity of secondary forests to absorb carbon is known from studies that involve monitoring of areas in the field. Their average net carbon uptake rate in Neotropical regions is 11 times that of old-growth forests. However, the long-term dynamics of secondary forests in Brazil and worldwide is poorly understood,” said Aragão, one of the authors of the study, which was conducted at INPE as part of Celso H. L Silva Júnior’s Ph.D. research.

This knowledge is fundamental to enable Brazil to achieve its Nationally Determined Contribution targets under the 2015 Paris Agreement. These include the restoration and reforestation of 12 million hectares of forest by 2030, he noted.

Age and size of secondary forests in each biome

The study calculated the increment in secondary forests that previously had anthropic cover (plantation, pasture, urban infrastructure, or mining) and their age, biome by biome. According to Aragão, secondary forest growth is not linear and correlates with age, so that it is important to establish the age of a forest in order to estimate its carbon uptake.

The data showed that a total of 262,791 square kilometers (km²) of secondary forests were recovered in Brazil between 1986 and 2018. This corresponds to 59% of the old-growth forest area cleared in the Brazilian Amazon between 1988 and 2019.

“The restored forests were located all over Brazil with the smallest proportion in the Pantanal [wetlands in the Center-West], accounting for 0.43% [1,120 km²] of the total mapped area. The largest proportion was in the Amazon, with 56.61% [148,764 km²]. The Caatinga [the semi-arid biome in the Northeast] accounted for 2.32% [6,106 km²] of the total area and had the youngest secondary forests—over 50% were between one and six years old,” Aragão said.

The Atlantic Rainforest ranked second by size of restored areas, with 70,218 km² (or 26.72% of the total), and had the oldest—over half were

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Japan aims for zero emissions, carbon neutral society by 2050: PM

By Elaine Lies



a man wearing a suit and tie: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gives his first policy speech in parliament in Tokyo


© Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gives his first policy speech in parliament in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan is aiming to cut greenhouse gases to zero by 2050 and become a carbon-neutral society, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday as he unveiled a major shift in position on climate change.



a crowd of people in a room: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gives his first policy speech in parliament in Tokyo


© Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga gives his first policy speech in parliament in Tokyo

Japan had previously said it would be carbon neutral as soon as possible in the second half of the century, rather than set an explicit date.

“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said in his first policy address to parliament since taking office last month.

“We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about great growth.”



a man and a woman standing in front of a curtain: Japan's Emperor Naruhito wearing a protective face mask speaks during the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo


© Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito wearing a protective face mask speaks during the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo

Japan’s target of no greenhouse gases emissions on a net basis by 2050 brings it into line with the European Union, which set a target of being carbon neutral by that same date last year. Chinese President Xi Jinping in September pledged to make his country “carbon neutral” by 2060.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Lawmakers keeping social distancing bow toward Japan's Emperor Naruhito during the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo


© Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Lawmakers keeping social distancing bow toward Japan’s Emperor Naruhito during the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo

Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, and while steps are being taken to increase renewable energy, it also plans to roll out new coal-burning power stations.

Later, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told a news conference that plans for attaining key parts of the goal would be drawn up by the end of the year.

“Carbon neutrality itself is a growth strategy, and we must carry it out with all we have,” he added.

To achieve its goals, Suga said new solar cells and carbon recycling would be key, and Japan would intensify research and development in those areas, along with digitalising society – a policy he has pushed since taking over from Shinzo Abe.

The announcement was cheered by policy makers and investors.

“Japan joining the EU in targeting carbon neutrality by 2050 is very welcome, and so is PM Suga’s focus on green technologies and especially solar, as a growth driver,” said Eric Pedersen, Nordea Asset Management’s head of responsible investment.



a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: Japan's Emperor Naruhito wearing a protective face mask arrives to the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo


© Reuters/KIM KYUNG-HOON
Japan’s Emperor Naruhito wearing a protective face mask arrives to the opening of an extraordinary session of parliament in Tokyo

But he also warned that Japan would need to start decommissioning coal power and stop building and financing new coal power abroad.

In a nod to Japan’s deep economic ties with giant neighbour China, Suga said a stable bilateral relationship was essential – but also said that Japan would maintain contact with “all like-minded nations for a

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California’s greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2018

California’s greenhouse gas emissions rose slightly in 2018 due largely to lower hydroelectric power use, according to a report released Monday by the state Air Resources Board.



a factory with smoke coming out of it: A refinery in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles is among the facilities regulated under California's cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)


© Provided by The LA Times
A refinery in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles is among the facilities regulated under California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)

The state emitted the equivalent of 425 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, about 1 million more than in 2017, the Air Resources Board inventory found.

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Pollution overall remained well below the state’s 2020 climate target of 431 million metric tons, which the state hit four years early, in 2016. But the uneven progress underscores the challenge California faces as it pursues the more ambitious goal of slashing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions another 40% by 2030.

The uptick in 2018 was mostly due to a decrease in the use of hydroelectric power resulting from lower precipitation in the winter of 2017-18, said Dave Clegern, an Air Resources Board spokesman.

“That emissions category rose about 1 million metric tons,” Clegern said. “That was partially compensated by increases in solar generation and other lower greenhouse gas intensity resources.”

Though the year-over-year change is going in the wrong direction, it is “more noise than anything fundamental,” said Danny Cullenward, a lecturer at Stanford Law School. “Nearly all of the state’s climate gains arise in the electricity sector, where a growing share of wind and solar resources reduces emissions over time, and the variability of large hydropower resources causes headline numbers to fluctuate from year to year.”

“California’s clean energy policies are working to clean up the electricity sector,” he added. “But in other sectors — notably transportation, industry and residential and commercial buildings — policy isn’t on track to achieve California’s climate laws.”

Last year’s inventory by the state showed that emissions reductions slowed in 2017, declining by 1.2%, versus a decline of 2.8% in 2016. To be on a pathway to its 2030 goal, California must reverse that trend and significantly pick up the pace of emissions reductions across many sectors.

In one notable improvement, the annual report showed that transportation emissions dropped by 1.5 million metric tons between 2017 and 2018, the first decrease since 2013. Cars, trucks and other vehicles remain California’s largest pollution source, accounting for about 40% of its planet-warming emissions and rising stubbornly for years as driving miles increase.

Cullenward said he is not concerned about the state meeting its 2020 target to reduce its emissions below 1990s levels and that it “will almost certainly be in compliance,” given that global emissions slowed this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What worries me is that the Air Resources Board does not have a credible plan for how to get the reductions needed to get to California’s 2030 climate target,” he said. “Reducing emissions below that level requires more than progress in the electricity sector, but the major policy the state has identified

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