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.

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Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS®)

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


  • 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,

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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.