System to rid space station of astronaut exhalations inspires Earth-based CO2 removal


When astronauts aboard the International Space Station (#ISS) exhale carbon dioxide (CO2), it’s removed from the air and pumped into space. Could an Earth-based version help remove greenhouse gas emissions from our atmosphere?


In order to limit global warming to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels and avoid some of the worse impacts of climate change, it means eliminating all 42 billion tonnes of annual CO2 emissions by 2050.

One way of doing this is to cut emissions. Another is to design materials that can remove the CO2 that is already in the atmosphere or before it’s expelled. The problem is that no one has quite worked out how best to do this – yet.

The air filter system in space inspired Professor Stefano Brandani and Dr Giulio Santori from the University of Edinburgh, UK, to develop a way of capturing and concentrating CO2 directly from the atmosphere. This ambitious strategy – to build a so-called artificial tree – would see CO2 captured to be stored in large underground reservoirs.


The CO2 breathed by astronauts aboard the ISS is captured by using a sponge-like mineral called a zeolite, which has tiny pores to lock in a CO2 molecule. On the space station, the zeolites empty their CO2 when exposed to the vacuum of space.

As part of a project called ACCA, Dr Santori is hacking the system so it will work on Earth. This is more challenging. ‘There is so much more CO2 to capture and concentrations are more dilute to begin with on Earth, so it is much more energy intensive,’ he explained. ‘The starting concentration of CO2 on the ISS is one order of magnitude higher.’


The idea is to install membranes that trap CO2, which can then be concentrated and compressed for storage. ‘Membranes are efficient and can save energy compared to other systems,’ said Professor Marco Giacinti Baschetti at the University of Bologna, Italy.

In traditional strategies used by industries such as coal plants, CO2 is captured in special liquids or solid sponge-like structures, but these must then be heated up to release the CO2. This is not needed with membranes. All existing technologies, however, are costly. Current membrane materials are not durable enough and do not separate CO2 well enough to be economically sensible.

Prof. Baschetti runs a project called NANOMEMC2 which is developing a number of different membranes for CO2 capture. In November, the team is to test a new membrane in a Colacem cement facility in Italy.

Developed by project scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the membrane is made of hollow fibres, about a millimetre thick, and covered with an extremely thin layer of nanocellulose and polymer mixed with artificial amino acids. The nanocelluose, which is made of miniscule fibres from wood, allows CO2 to permeate, while blocking other gases. The amino acid grabs onto CO2 and pulls it across the membrane.

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#Chinese #Nickel demand to increase, but build-up in capacity to cap prices


Chinese nickel demand from stainless steel and battery materials producers will continue to rise in near future, although extensive investments in nickel projects will cap higher nickel prices.

The growth in battery materials production led by expectations of a boom in electric vehicles (#EVs) will also drive higher #Nickel consumption.

“#China produced 100,000 tonnes of ternary battery materials in 2017, up 100% from 2016; meanwhile, production is expected to rise about 30% in 2018,” Xu Aidong, chief analyst at Beijing Antaike, said.

As a result, there has been  aggressive investment by #Chinese producers in new nickel projects, especially in #Indonesia, in order to secure the resources for these two areas of growth.

Most recently, Chinese #Cobalt producer Huayou Cobalt announced in November it is to invest in a joint venture with other four companies to build a laterite ore hydrometallurgy plant producing nickel intermediate products in Morowali, Indonesia.

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Germany to give all sectors CO2 reduction targets in draft law


#BERLIN (#Reuters) – #German Environment Ministry said that it would soon present a draft climate protection law in which all sectors would be given a specific target for reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.

Ministry said fossil fuel use would become more expensive for transport or buildings while electricity would become cheaper.

It added that all in all citizens should not face a heavier burden.

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#Bloomberg: Car Battery Pioneer Says New Breakthrough Will Lower Cobalt Use

Cobalt owned by Anthony Milewski. Photography: Jasper Juinen

The scientist-turned-entrepreneur behind a battery technology adopted by chemical giants #BASF SE and Johnson Matthey Plc is back with another invention — one he claims will boost electric vehicle performance for years to come.

Latest innovation reduces the need for #Cobalt, a key battery material, to only the most critical areas in order to lower costs. The blueish-gray element is mined mostly in Democratic Republic of Congo and prices have spiked in recent years amid fears of shortages for battery-powered cars.

New invention, called #, can be used in a number of types of #Nickel-based power packs and has been granted patents in the #US, the #EuropeanUnion, #China and #Japan — the major battery manufacturing markets.

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#BBC News: Ten simple things help save the planet


We know that climate change is happening – but there are plenty of things individuals can do to help mitigate it. Here’s your handy guide to the most effective strategies.

1. What is the single most important thing humanity has to do in the coming years – and what does that mean for me?

2. Changing how industries are run or subsidised doesn’t sound like anything I can influence… can I?

3. Other than that, what’s the best daily action I can take?

4. But isn’t renewable energy extremely expensive?

5. Could I make a difference by changing my diet?

6. How harmful are my flying habits?

7. Should I be shopping differently?

8. Should I think about how many children I have (or don’t have)?

9. But if I eat less meat or take fewer flights, that’s just me – how much of a difference can that really make?

10. What if I just can’t avoid that flight, or cut down on driving?

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Mining Veteran Wants to Build a $1 Billion Battery Metals Giant


South #African mining veteran Brian Menell wants to build a battery material giant to help challenge #China’s domination of the nascent industry.

It’s still early days for his privately funded company, TechMet Ltd., which controls just a handful of assets from #Canada to #Rwanda. But he’s raising more money and sees countries such as the #US and #Japan as potential partners to help catch China in the rapidly growing industry to provide battery grade supplies of everything from tin and tungsten to #Nickel and #Cobalt.

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#Forbes: The Clock May Have Run Out On 1.5 Degrees, But There Are Still Things We Can Do


The climate clock turned red at Berlin’s Mercator Research Institute, signaling that humanity had emitted so much carbon into the atmosphere that it could no longer fend off a 1.5-degree temperature increase without stopping emissions and sucking CO2 back in.

The Mercator Carbon Clock gives humanity 17 years before it exhausts the 2-degree carbon budget.

“We are nowhere close to a 1-degree world. We’re nowhere close to a 1.5-degree world. We’re going to overshoot 2 degrees. If we work like hell we might get 3 degrees, which will be awful.”

We need to control the carbon budget.

It means pursuing any and every kind of carbon policy: tax credits, feed-in tariffs, trading schemes, grants, financing mechanisms, emissions caps, a carbon tax.

It means encouraging carbon use in cement, concrete and fuels or converting CO2 into marketable products like nanotubes, carbon black or carbon monoxide. It means direct air capture. It means reusing CO2 for soda pop.

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