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Critical analysis and discussion on the topic with environmental and chemical engineering elements (e.g. environmental laws and regulations, life cycle assessment, process flow diagram, treatment processes and etc.). 1) Carbon dioxide reduction The increasing amount of carbon dioxide emission will lead to worsening of global warming and greenhouse effect. In order to slow down the degradation of environment, the amount of carbon dioxide emission into the environment has to be reduced. i) Carbon capture Carbon capture is generally used to captures carbon dioxide from sources that emit a lot of carbon dioxide like plants but not from mobile sources like vehicles because it is too costly. However, ambient carbon dioxide can be collected by allowing the air to flow naturally through the absorbent. However, this is hardly efficient since CO2 is diluted in atmosphere. Therefore, it has to be carried out by an economically feasible technology which is a collector that captures carbon dioxide and functions similarly as windmill. In windmill, kinetic energy is extracted, in collector, carbon dioxide is extracted. Optimal design is the first step in developing this technology.
The common designs are filter banks standing in the air flow, filters that look like leaves and systems that resemble cooling towers. The way it works can be explained by the way electricity is produced from wind energy. In a tower, water is pumped to the top and evaporated, cooling the air. The colder air will move downward due to the higher density which generates potential energy. The air will leave at the bottom of the tower and flow over the absorbers. The tower that can generate 3-4MW of electrical energy can carry out absorption of 9500 tonnes carbon dioxide. There are many chemicals that can be used to absorb carbon dioxide but good sorbents should be chosen. The criteria are it should not be able to escape from the system on large scale nor should it cause pollutions. It should be able to recycled for many times and not too costly. Alkaline solutions of Ca(OH)2, or sodium or potassium hydroxide are good sorbent of carbon dioxide. (Lakner, Grimes, Ziock, n.d.) ii) Reducing carbon dioxide emission in daily activities Everyone on earth should be responsible to reduce their carbon footprint given that it will has a significant effect on the amount of carbon dioxide gas in atmosphere should everyone unites and contributes to it. Everyone should save electricity by switching off electrical appliances after usage and by buying electrical appliances that is less energy consuming. This is because according to Figure 1, the biggest contributor towards the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, especially carbon dioxide is energy production.
According to Figure 2, emission of carbon dioxide from energy production keeps increasing every year so the worsening of global warming and greenhouse effect is foreseeable if people do not start saving the usage of electricity. By saving usage of electricity, energy demand can be lowered, the electricity needed to sustain the needs will be less. Less energy production means less carbon dioxide emitted.In daily lives, one can reduce carbon dioxide emissions simply by using public transport, walking and biking instead of driving. If one has no choice but to drive, carpooling will be a great avenue as it means less people will have to drive to work. Instead of dumping all wastes and have them all buried, those which can be reused should be reused to maximize utilities. Those that can be recycled like papers, metal cans, aluminium, glass and bottles should be recycled so that less new goods are to be produced thus reducing the carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere during industrial processes. One should plant trees because plants carry out photosynthesis that naturally absorb carbon dioxide and give out oxygen which cools the earth down at the same time. iii) Collective efforts of all nations Environmental problem like heating up of earth and pollutions have no boundaries and can affect every single country on the earth so all nations should work hand in hand to deal with environmental issues. One of the prominent examples is Kyoto Protocol which is an international agreement to slow down climate change by setting standards of emission reduction targets for its parties. It was enforced on 16 February 2015. It sets higher target for developed nations which are the main contributor of carbon dioxide emissions due to industrialization. Under the agreement, the emissions will be kept tracked and closely monitored by the UN Climate Change Secretariat.
Another well known example is Paris Agreement which is unlike any other contract made before. The agreement targets to deal with climate change by keeping global temperature rise below 2 degree Celsius. The developed countries that signed the Paris Agreement will help the developing countries to develop appropriate financial flow and technology framework to cope with environmental problems. The special part about this agreement is it does not enforce a standard on every party buy allow all parties to decide their contributions and report regularly on their emissions and how successful is the implementation. iv) Environmental laws and regulations Every country has their own environmental laws and regulations that restrict all activities that can impact on environment. For example, United States has Environmental Protection Agency that regulate carbon dioxide emissions since 2009. It affects transportation, manufacturing costs and generation of power by utilities. Under the Clean Air Act, all greenhouse gases are regulated which include CO2, CH4, N2O, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. This is because these greenhouse gases will endanger public health and welfare besides contributing to air pollution and climate change. Under the regulatory approaches, the Act regulates carbon dioxide emission from mobile sources which restricts the emissions from vehicles and corporate average fuel economy standards. Vehicles that are supposed to follow the restrictions are light-duty vehicles, light-duty trucks, and medium-duty passenger vehicles (e.g., cars, sport utility vehicles, minivans, and pickup trucks used for personal transportation). It was estimated by Environmental Protection Agency that this restriction itself would be able to reduce carbon dioxide emission by 960 million metric tons.
This is accomplished through command-and-control approach. The manufacturers have to calculate a production-weighted fleet average emissions rate and measure against the emission standard in order to make sure it complies with the requirements of the rule. In order to prevent stagnation, the emissions standards become more stringent gradually to prevent manufacturers for not wanting to make extra efforts to go below the standards. 2) Carbon dioxide utilization Carbon dioxide utilization is to reduce the amount of existing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Note that the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the process of carbon dioxide utilization should not exceed the amount of carbon dioxide used. The properties of carbon dioxide being relatively inert and non-reactive makes it the reason it has broad industrial and technical applications. i) Generate electricity from carbon dioxide Power plants can generate electricity by pumping carbon dioxide through water to produce electricity. When carbon dioxide is pumped through water, electrolysis happens, ions migrate to cathode or anode. Carbon dioxide reacts with water to form carbonic acid, in which the electrolyte became positive hydrogen ions and negative bicarbonate ions which causes a flow of current. The next step is to increase the pH of the solution which turns bicarbonate into a simple carbonate. It is recommended to increase the pressure since the ions will increase. As the research progresses, a better electrolyte, monoethanolamine is found. Scientists are researching on ways to make the experiment cheaper and be able to produce energy on large scale. (Radford, 2013) ii) Building materials Carbon dioxide can be converted into carbon nanotube that grows into nanofiber threads as shown in Figure 3.
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