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Stinky Landfills Might Soon Generate Clean Energy

Illustration for article titled Stinky Landfills Might Soon Generate Clean Energy

Hydrogen can be devastating, but in the right hands, it can also be awesome. When burned, for instance, it emits only water vapor instead of nasty carbon dioxide that's responsible for much of the climate change we see today. Now, researchers have discovered a way to convert methane — the same gas that makes landfills stinky — into hydrogen by making it react with carbon dioxide itself.

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This hydrogen can then be used to generate clean electricity for powering homes, offices and hospitals. Turns out that stinky landfills are the perfect place to find all these gases in a single place.

So far, however, finding the right catalyst for this conversion has been a challenge, explains Fabio B. Noronha, a researcher with the National Institute of Technology in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, to Phys.org. The catalyst gets smothered by carbon, which forms as a contaminant during the conversion process and eventually stops the whole thing from working.

To solve this problem, Noronha's team developed a new catalyst material that removes the carbon as soon as it is formed. This approach is based on the automotive catalysts developed in the past to control car and truck emissions, he adds.

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Right now, researchers are testing this out in lab conditions. But as soon as the new, stable catalyst is ready, says Phys.org, the technology should be ready to roll out to everyone. [Phys.org]

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DISCUSSION

"...instead of nasty carbon dioxide that's responsible for much of the climate change we see today."

Really?

- We're at a 30-year low in hurricanes according to NOAA.
- We're at a 20-year low in tornadoes according to the Nat'l Weather Service
- We're at a 10-year low in major forest fires according to the Nat'l Forestry Service.

- "Superstorm" Sandy, poster child of the global warming movement, wasn't even a hurricane by the time it hit land.

- That monster typhoon that hit the Philippines a year ago? Yeah, it was so big that the local old-timers said they hadn't seen one that big since back in '52.

- The droughts in California and Texas? Not only do both states have long, long histories of droughts, but both pale in comparison to the drought of the Dust Bowl 30's, which involved a fourth of the nation.

But a good try on the author's part, just the same.