Confronting Climate Change – Part 2
Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
As the quest for permanent solutions to global warming gains urgency, scientists are working to harness the chemical magic that plants use to produce hydrogen from sunlight and water. Hydrogen fuel produced in artificial photosynthesis units could replace some of the fossil fuels that now account for almost 70 percent of the carbon dioxide released in the United States each year. Imagine if your car had an artificial photosynthesis unit on the roof that converted water to non-polluting hydrogen fuel? Believe it or not, scientists think they might be able to transform this radical idea into reality.
Did You Know?
- Ancient Greeks and Romans incorporated passive solar design into their architecture. They constructed buildings that faced south to help heat and light them.
- A French mathematician designed and built the world’s first solar-powered motor in the mid-19th century.
- In 1880, the first commercial electric lighting powered by water turbine debuted in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Hydroelectricity accounts for 20 percent of the world’s electricity
- The first wind farm in the United States was established in New Hampshire in 1980
- Producing 20 percent of the nation’s electricity from wind power would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 800 million tons.
Experience this podcast:
Science for Kids
Hands on activities for young aspiring chemists
A magazine for high school students
- Clearing the Air—Treaties to Treatments (Sept. 2005)
So now that we’ve got all this information about the atmosphere —what are we going to do with it?
- Beefing Up Atmospheric Models (October 2003)
They’re difficult to work with, but many find them attractive. They’re mathematical models! Chemists use them to study processes from local pollution to global warming.
- Nobel Prize Winner Sherwood Rowland: A Conversation (October 2003)
Would you give up a shot at a baseball career to be a chemist? A Nobel Prize winner reflects back on growing up smart and athletic.
SciFinder®, a research tool produced by CAS (a division of the American Chemical Society), found 3955 references published this year on the topic of "solar cells". Analysis of these references indicates strong interest in excitonic solar cells based on organic optoelectronic materials. Among those references is a paper by Dr. Michael Grätzel and colleagues titled "High Performance dye-sensitized solar cells based on solvent-free electrolytes produced from eutectic melts" which reports an unprecedented light converting efficiency of 8.2%.
The CAS databases cover references from more than 10,000 major scientific journals and 57 patent authorities worldwide.
In the News
- “Green” solar cells achieve new efficiency record
ES&T, July 30, 2008
- Renewable energy spurs “green gold rush”
ES&T, July 23, 2008
- The Great Forgotten Clean-Energy Source: Geothermal
Discover, April 3, 2008
- Wind energy on demand
ES&T, Oct. 10, 2007
- Tapping the Sun
C&EN, Aug. 27, 2007
- Solar Energy Advances
C&EN, July 30, 2007
- Wind energy’s footprint
ES&T, May 16, 2007
- Reshaping nuclear fuel
ES&T, Jan. 3, 2007
- Wind power in the backyard
ES&T, Dec. 20, 2006
- Power Surge for Lab
C&EN, Aug. 28, 2006
- Heretical Position on Nuclear Power
C&EN, Aug. 21, 2006
- Solar power cuts pollution
ES&T, June 7, 2006
- Hundreds of books have been written in the past few years on the effects of climate change. These books offer an amazing variety of opinions and viewpoints. Information on many of these books is available from the Library of Congress, http://catalog.loc.gov/
Sources for this podcast
- “Assuring a Secure Energy Future,” a presentation at the 235th ACS National Meeting by Raymond Orbach, Under Secretary for Science, U.S. Dept. of Energy.
- Addressing the need for alternative fuels
- Seven Ideas Lost on the U.S.
- Green Peace Global Wind Energy Outlook
- How synthetic biology can transform biofuel production
- Energy Storage using Aqueous Hydrogen Peroxide
- Energy Efficient Cities
- Energy Storage
- Years of Research and Development Needed to Make Solar Energy Competitive
- 20 Percent Wind Energy By 2030 (PDF)
- Caltech Center for Sustainable Energy Research
- Future Climate Change Projections
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Wind Power Upgrade: Turbine technology looms large
- DOE Wind and Hydropower Web site
- DOE Solar Energy Web site
- A Brief History of Solar Energy
- Growing strength—and divide—in climate opinion
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
- Scientific opinions on climate change references compiled by Wikipedia
- Biofuel references compiled by Wikipedia
- AAAS Science & Policy Web site on Climate Change and Energy
- Greenhouse gases and trends – DOE Energy Information Administration
- DOE – Greenhouse Gas Emissions
- EPA Climate Change site
- Pew Center Web Site on Global Climate Change:
- C&EN archive of articles on climate change published since 1998
- ACS endorses Climate Security Act – ACS Legislative Action Network
- DOE site of fossil fuels
- C&EN editorial on Grand Science Challenges
What Is Chemistry?
What is chemistry? What do chemists do?
Learn more about how important chemistry is in our daily lives through articles, hands on activities, and resources to use in the classroom.