June 29, 2016

IU Scientists Win $500K Grant To Research Carbon Recycling

Two IU scientists will use this equipment to study carbon dioxide recycling. - Nick Janzen/IPBS

Two IU scientists will use this equipment to study carbon dioxide recycling.

Nick Janzen/IPBS

BLOOMINGTON -- Two Indiana University scientists are working to recycle the pollutant carbon dioxide into plastics, like Tupperware. They just won a half a million dollars to build on their preliminary research.

Chemistry professor Steve Tait is leading the study on carbon recycling.  He says the goal of the project is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — the primary pollutant behind man-made climate change.

“So carbon recycling, it’s not going to solve the entire problem on its own, but I think it’s an important component,” Tait said.

Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a gas released when fossil fuels are burned for energy. Carbon recycling takes CO2 out of the atmosphere and transforms it into something new, like building materials, fuel, or even consumer products like Tupperware sets.

“We’re taking CO2 out of the atmosphere, putting it into a fuel, then when it burns it would go back into the atmosphere; or we’d pull the CO2 out of the atmosphere and turn it into plastic or some product like that, so that the net effect is that there’s no new carbon that’s being introduced into the environment,” Tait said.

The $525,000 grant runs until 2019, when Tait hopes they’ll have accomplished enough research for the National Science Foundation to renew it.

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