Green Solutions to Dirty Problems
Cleaning up the environment shouldn’t depend on complex and expensive technologies. That’s the philosophy of Dr. Jason Clyburne, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Studies and Materials. He believes there is no point coming up with global warming initiatives that do not lead to affordable, real-life solutions.
Clyburne is focusing his efforts on systems utilizing ionic liquids, designer chemicals created from inexpensive and readily available materials. These chemicals have shown promise for the safe and efficient removal of environmentally-hazardous substances from industrial processes, such as the burning of coal.
These specialized compounds can trap CO2 from waste streams using much less energy than the traditional technologies now employed. The CO2 can then be separated from the ionic liquid system and stored, allowing the ionic liquid to be recycled to remove additional CO2.
Clyburne’s liquids may one day provide an alternative to the scrubbers now in place on most coal-fired power plants. Affordable removal of carbon dioxide from gaseous industrial emissions is considered one of the holy grails in climate change research. Clyburne is now focusing on developing a prototype to see if his proposal works.
Clyburne’s research with green chemistry could lead to the solution for many environmentally-relevant problems. As well, a successful prototype would demonstrate that the simplest solutions are often the best ones.