Researchers at MIT are studying ways to utilize natural zeolite to break down methane and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane emissions are a serious global issue, and though it's hard to accurately measure, estimates are somewhere around 570 million tons annually. 60% of these emissions come from human activity. Major sources of methane include mining, agriculture, and wastewater treatment plants.
Methane poses a serious risk to our planet, and reducing the release of this gas into the atmosphere would help slow down or even reverse the onset of global warming.
Whereas previous research in this area has focussed on turning methane gas into methanal, this research focused on turning methane into CO2. Releasing CO2 is environmentally neutral and requires much less effort than converting methane to methanol.
The technology consists of natural zeolite, coated with a copper nitrate solution. The result is a sustainable filtration media with the ability to continuously turn methane into CO2. The zeolite pore structures enhance catalytic reactions and geometrically constrain gaseous reactants through nanoscale channels.