|Green technology and nanomaterial applications for the mitigation of greenhouse gases (GHGs)|
Prof. Dr. Abdul Rahman Mohamed
Global warming is considered one of the major environmental concerns that humankind is facing. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) contribute the most to the global climate change because they are the major greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are present in the atmosphere. These GHGs take part in raising the global temperature through absorption of infrared light and re-emitting them. The impact of greenhouse effect will be global and serious in many different aspects such as ice melting at the Earth’s pole, fast rising sea level and increasing precipitation across the globe.
According to the World Resource Institute climate statistical report, the energy sector in Malaysia was the major source of anthropogenic GHGs emissions which accounted for 67% of the cumulative GHGs emissions from 1990 to 2010. In this energy sector, the power generation sector was the highest emitters of GHGs (39%), followed by the manufacturing/construction sector (22%) and transportation (21%). This situation is inferred that energy sector using fossil fuel combustion dominated GHGs emission and fossil fuel will be inevitably depleting. Moreover, in the recently concluded 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15), the Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia also made a voluntary pledge of up to 40% reduction in emissions intensity of GDP by 2020 as compared to 2005 levels. Therefore, it is urgent for the researchers to find a renewable energy resource to mitigate the effect of global warming as well as meet the increasing energy demand in developing countries such as Malaysia.
In principle, there are at least three routes of reducing the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere, including direct reduction of GHGs emission, GHGs capture and storage (GCS) and GHGs utilization. Despite the increasing utilization efficiency of fossil fuels to dramatically lower the GHGs emission seems difficult due to the increasing population and demand for high quality of life. The capacity of GCS technology is also limited due to the environmental risk of leakage and the energy requirement for gas compression and transportation. In this programme, we will seek into the application of nanomaterials for chemical conversion of GHGs into useful products, study on an alternative green technology for energy generation and eventually providing an optimal carbon policy towards achieving the maximum benefit of low carbon economy development.
The application of nanomaterials for the chemical conversion of GHGs is a sustainable technology because of the zero environmental deterioration. Nevertheless, more amplifications and developments are needed regarding the selection of novel nanomaterials and the selectivity of the catalytic reactions to make this technology feasible. The low cost, non-toxic and availability of GHGs in abundant amount, however, it is suggested that GHGs serve as potential carbon feedstock in many chemical productions if they can be fully utilized. This brings the idea that GHGs conversion approach will be the best solution insight of environmentally and economically beneficial.