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  • richardmitnick 2:59 pm on September 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon studies,   

    From SUNY Buffalo: “Filtering the carbon from coal” 

    SUNY Buffalo

    SUNY Buffalo

    UB-led team awarded $1.9 million federal grant to insert palladium nanoparticles into membrane that removes greenhouse gases from the fossil fuel

    1
    Credit: Petteri Sulonen via Wikipedia Commons.

    September 3, 2015
    Cory Nealon

    Despite gains by natural gas, wind and solar, coal remains the top electricity producer in the United States.

    Accordingly, interest is strong in developing technology that curbs unwanted effects, such as greenhouse gas emissions, that result from coal’s combustion.

    To address the matter, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a $1.9 million grant to a research team led by the University at Buffalo. The researchers will develop a membrane to remove carbon dioxide, which makes up the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, from gasified coal before its combustion.

    “The idea is to decarbonize coal before burning it,” said Haiqing Lin, PhD, the grant’s principal investigator and an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UB’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

    2
    Haiqing Lin, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering, University at Buffalo. No image credit.

    The grant is one of 16 announced last month by the energy department’s National Energy Testing Laboratory.

    Lin will work with UB Distinguished Professor Mark T. Swihart, PhD, who serves as executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics. Also working on the project are Helios-NRG, LLC of Amherst, New York; Membrane Technology and Research, Inc. of Newark, California; and the National Carbon Capture Center in Wilsonville, Alabama.

    “We are pleased to be working with UB on developing this exciting new technology which has the potential to make a step change in the economics of carbon capture from fossil-fueled power plants, thereby mitigating the nation’s emissions of greenhouse gases,” said Ravi Prasad, president at Helios, one of roughly two dozen high-tech startup companies in the UB Technology Incubator, which is administered by the university’s Office of Science, Technology Transfer and Economic Outreach (STOR).

    While coal accounted for 39 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2014, it contributed 77 percent of the electricity sector’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. Because of coal’s abundance in the U.S. and abroad, researchers are exploring ways to capture, utilize and sequester carbon dioxide from the fossil fuel, a concept more commonly known as “clean coal.”

    One way involves turning coal into a gas by reacting the fossil fuel at high temperatures with oxygen or steam. The result is a synthetic gas (syngas), containing mainly hydrogen and carbon dioxide, which can be used, among other things, to generate electricity.

    Technology exists to remove the majority of carbon dioxide from syngas; however, the process makes it expensive compared to electricity derived from natural gas and other sources. The idea of using a membrane is appealing, Lin said, because it’s passive, and potentially more energy-efficient and less costly compared to other technologies.

    The team will develop and test a polymer-based membrane outfitted with palladium-based nanoparticles. The polymers act as a filter, largely preventing the passage of carbon dioxide, while the palladium acts as a bridge that enables hydrogen gas to more easily pass through the membrane.

    Theoretically, the hydrogen gas would pass through the membrane and then be burned, which in turn would power turbines. Meantime, the carbon dioxide could be geologically sequestered, used to create chemicals or pumped underground for enhanced oil recovery.

    See the full article here.

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    UB is a premier, research-intensive public university and a member of the Association of American Universities. As the largest, most comprehensive institution in the 64-campus State University of New York system, our research, creative activity and people positively impact the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:52 pm on August 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Nature: “China’s carbon emissions overestimated” 

    Nature Mag
    Nature

    19 August 2015
    Jeff Tollefson

    1
    China’s cement industry may produce less carbon than was thought. Xiezhengyi/Cpressphoto/Corbis

    China’s carbon emissions may be significantly lower than previously thought — about 14% less in 2013 than estimated by the Chinese government and others, according to research published this week in Nature (Z. Liu et al. Nature 524, 335–338; 2015). The analysis draws on data from more than 4,200 Chinese mines — including new measurements of the energy content of coal — among other sources.

    “At the beginning of the project we thought that the emissions might be higher” than existing estimates, says Zhu Liu, an ecologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and lead author of the study. “We were very surprised.”

    His team’s findings do not unseat China from its position as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Even when the lower estimate is taken into account, China’s carbon output for 2013 is still more than two-thirds higher than that of the United States, the second-largest emitter. But the study underscores long-standing uncertainties in the methods with which scientists calculate the emissions of individual nations, and how much carbon cycles through the atmosphere and into oceans and ecosystems. For comparison, the cumulative reduction in Chinese emissions outlined in the study — roughly 2.9 billion tonnes from 2000 to 2013 — is larger than the estimated amount of carbon that the world’s forests pulled out of the atmosphere from 1990 to 2007.

    That presents a problem for researchers who study the carbon cycle. “We can easily go back and retroactively adjust Chinese carbon-emission estimates,” says Ashley Ballantyne, a climate scientist at the University of Montana in Missoula. “Unfortunately, we cannot go back and adjust all the previous studies on the global carbon cycle and their conclusions based on the previously biased emission estimates.”

    The Chinese government releases data on energy consumption and production at the provincial and national levels, but those statistics often conflict with each other, and are revised frequently. Liu and his team analysed government data on energy production and on exports and imports of coal, oil and gas. They found that China’s fossil-fuel use was 10% above the official government estimate, but that the country’s overall emissions were lower once China’s reliance on low-quality coal from domestic mines was taken into account. This is because lower-quality coal contains less carbon than higher-quality deposits, so burning it produces less energy and less heat-trapping CO2.

    The team says that its estimate for how much CO2 will be produced by burning Chinese coal is around 40% less per unit than the figures adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And the team calculates that emissions from cement production, a coal-fuelled process that is a major contributor to global emissions, are 45% below existing estimates.

    The coal measurements were collected from mine reports and from a project sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences that assesses the country’s cumulative carbon emissions and carbon uptake by ecosystems across China. Liu says that the quality of Chinese coal is likely to be getting worse as the country burns through its best reserves.

    “This is probably the best available estimate of emissions from coal burning in China, and that is an important contribution,” says Gregg Marland, a geologist at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and a co-author of the study. But he adds that the revised figure is within the range of uncertainty reported in existing inventories.

    And it may need to be increased as the Chinese government releases further energy data, says Glen Peters, a climate-policy researcher at the Center for International Climate and Environ­mental Research in Oslo. Although China said in February that its coal consumption had dropped between 2013 and 2014, he notes, the government has since increased its cumulative estimate of coal consumption over the past decade by 12–14%. Scientists are still waiting for the government to release revised estimates of energy production, including imports and exports, over the past decade. Liu says that his team’s estimates are unlikely to change when the latest data are released later this year, but Peters says that the figures may need to rise by as much as 7%.

    Such uncertainty arises in part from the many different ways to define and measure energy consumption; researchers do not know what kind of assumptions the Chinese government is making with its data. “If China reported their CO2 emissions, then we would know the assumptions that they want to make and many of these issues would then go away,” says Peters. The challenge, he adds, is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

    “With Chinese energy statistics,” he says, “there is always a ‘but’.”

    See the full article here.

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    Nature is a weekly international journal publishing the finest peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology on the basis of its originality, importance, interdisciplinary interest, timeliness, accessibility, elegance and surprising conclusions. Nature also provides rapid, authoritative, insightful and arresting news and interpretation of topical and coming trends affecting science, scientists and the wider public.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:08 pm on July 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From astrobio.net: “‘Carbon sink’ detected underneath world’s deserts” 

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Astrobiology Magazine

    Jul 29, 2015
    No Writer Credit

    1
    Scientists followed the journey of water through the Tarim Basin from the rivers at the edge of the valley to the desert aquifers under the basin. They found that as water moved through irrigated fields, the water gathered dissolved carbon and moved it deep underground. Credit: Yan Li

    The world’s deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according to the new research.

    Humans add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere through fossil fuel combustion and deforestation. About 40 percent of this carbon stays in the atmosphere and roughly 30 percent enters the ocean, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Scientists thought the remaining carbon was taken up by plants on land, but measurements show plants don’t absorb all of the leftover carbon. Scientists have been searching for a place on land where the additional carbon is being stored—the so-called “missing carbon sink.”

    The new study suggests some of this carbon may be disappearing underneath the world’s deserts – a process exacerbated by irrigation. Scientists examining the flow of water through a Chinese desert found that carbon from the atmosphere is being absorbed by crops, released into the soil and transported underground in groundwater—a process that picked up when farming entered the region 2,000 years ago.

    Underground aquifers store the dissolved carbon deep below the desert where it can’t escape back to the atmosphere, according to the new study.

    The new study estimates that because of agriculture roughly 14 times more carbon than previously thought could be entering these underground desert aquifers every year. These underground pools that taken together cover an area the size of North America may account for at least a portion of the “missing carbon sink” for which scientists have been searching.

    “The carbon is stored in these geological structures covered by thick layers of sand, and it may never return to the atmosphere,” said Yan Li, a desert biogeochemist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Urumqi, Xinjiang, and lead author of the study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. “It is basically a one-way trip.”

    Knowing the locations of carbon sinks could improve models used to predict future climate change and enhance calculations of the Earth’s carbon budget, or the amount of fossil fuels humans can burn without causing major changes in the Earth’s temperature, according to the study’s authors.

    Although there are most likely many missing carbon sinks around the world, desert aquifers could be important ones, said Michael Allen, a soil ecologist from the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of California-Riverside who was not an author on the new study.

    If farmers and water managers understand the role heavily-irrigated inland deserts play in storing the world’s carbon, they may be able to alter how much carbon enters these underground reserves, he said.

    “This means [managers] can take practical steps that could play a role in addressing carbon budgets,” said Allen.

    2
    Researchers gathered groundwater flowing under the desert sands. The amount of carbon carried by this underground flow increased quickly when the Silk Road, which opened the region to farming, began 2,000 years ago. Credit: Yan Li

    Examining desert water

    To find out where deserts tucked away the extra carbon, Li and his colleagues analyzed water samples from the Tarim Basin, a Venezuela-sized valley in China’s Xinjiang region. Water draining from rivers in the surrounding mountains support farms that edge the desert in the center of the basin.

    The researchers measured the amount of carbon in each water sample and calculated the age of the carbon to figure out how long the water had been in the ground.

    The study shows the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the water doubles as it filters through irrigated fields. The scientists suggest carbon dioxide in the air is taken up by the desert crops. Some of this carbon is released into the soil through the plant’s roots. At the same time, microbes also add carbon dioxide to the soil when they break down sugars in the dirt. In a dry desert, this gas would work its way out of the soil into the air. But on arid farms, the carbon dioxide emitted by the roots and microbes is picked up by irrigation water, according to the new study.

    In these dry regions, where water is scarce, farmers over-irrigate their land to protect their crops from salts that are left behind when water used for farming evaporates. Over-irrigating washes these salts, along with carbon dioxide that is dissolved in the water, deeper into the earth, according to the new study.

    Although this process of carbon burial occurs naturally, the scientists estimate that the amount of carbon disappearing under the Tarim Desert each year is almost 12 times higher because of agriculture. They found that the amount of carbon entering the desert aquifer in the Tarim Desert jumped around the time the Silk Road, which opened the region to farming, begin to flourish.

    After the carbon-rich water flows down into the aquifer near the farms and rivers, it moves sideways toward the middle of the desert, a process that takes roughly 10,000 years.

    Any carbon dissolved in the water stays underground as it makes its way through the aquifer to the center of the desert, where it remains for thousands of years, according to the new study.

    Estimating carbon storage

    Based on the various rates that carbon entered the desert throughout history, the study’s authors estimate 20 billion metric tons (22 billion U.S. tons) of carbon is stored underneath the Tarim Basin desert, dissolved in an aquifer that contains roughly 10 times the amount of water held in the North American Great Lakes.

    The study’s authors approximate the world’s desert aquifers contain roughly 1 trillion metric tons (1 trillion U.S. tons) of carbon—about a quarter more than the amount stored in living plants on land.

    Li said more information about water movement patterns and carbon measurements from other desert basins are needed to improve the estimate of carbon stored underneath deserts around the globe.

    Allen said the new study is “an early foray” into this research area. “It is as much a call for further research as a definitive final answer,” he said.

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:56 pm on July 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From PNNL: “Playing ‘tag’ with pollution lets scientists see who’s It” 


    PNNL Lab

    July 29, 2015
    Mary Beckman

    1
    Snow and ice from the Tibetan Plateau and Himalayan range (upper left), an important source of water for many people, can be seen feeding rivers that flow down through India. Image courtesy of Jacques Descloitres, NASA

    Using a climate model that can tag sources of soot from different global regions and can track where it lands on the Tibetan Plateau, researchers have determined which areas around the plateau contribute the most soot — and where. The model can also suggest the most effective way to reduce soot on the plateau, easing the amount of warming the region undergoes.

    The work, which appeared in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in June, shows that soot pollution on and above the Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau area warms the region enough to contribute to earlier snowmelt and shrinking glaciers. A major source of water, such changes could affect the people living there. The study might help policy makers target pollution reduction efforts by pinpointing the sources that make the biggest difference when cut.

    “If we really want to address the issue of soot on the Tibetan Plateau,” said Yun Qian, a study co-author at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, “we need to know where we should start.”

    Overall, the work shows that, of worldwide sources, India’s wildfires, cooking fuel and fossil fuel burning contribute the most soot to the mountain range and plateau region, followed by fossil fuel burning in China and other East Asian countries.

    However, the work also zooms in on regions of the plateau. In this close up, India contributes the greatest amount of soot to the most regions, especially the Himalayas and the central Plateau. China contributes the most soot to the northeast Plateau. Finally, sources in central Asia, the Middle East and Tibet are only important to the northwest Plateau.

    The researchers identified where the soot went and also determined how much warming it caused there. In addition to confirming previous work that soot causes net warming over the entire Himalayan-Tibetan Plateau region, one area stood out. Soot increased the amount of warming on the snowy northwest Plateau in the spring by more than 10 times the annual average of the entire plateau.

    “Soot on snow in the northwest plateau causes more warming than all other sources in the area,” said corresponding author Hailong Wang, an atmospheric scientist at PNNL. “It’s bigger than the effect of greenhouse gases and soot in the atmosphere. The strong heating caused by soot on snow and in the atmosphere can change air circulation over the Plateau, leading to a broader impact on climate.”

    Third pole

    Often called the Third Pole due to how much ice and snow accumulates there, the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau are the source of major rivers in nearby countries and changes to them can affect the largest populations in China and India. The mass of frozen water also contributes to the global climate, which is changing as Earth’s temperature rises.

    Although earlier work showed soot’s warming effect over the whole region, the researchers wanted to pinpoint what kind of sources contribute. The team looked specifically at fossil fuel sources, biofuel and biomass sources of soot. For example, people in the surrounding countries use much wood, grass and agricultural wastes to cook with, which the team categorized as biofuel.

    To track the soot, the team developed a new way to tag the soot particles emitted from individual sources within a climate model. The method had advantages over other source-attribution methods, which either don’t completely isolate contributions from particular sources or require running the model many times to turn the sources off and on one at a time.

    Essentially, the team “dyed” 16 sources of soot in a well-known climate model called the Community Atmosphere Model version 5, also known as CAM5. After running the model, the team compared the model’s results to actual soot data taken from seven sites in the Tibetan Plateau/Himalayan region and to satellite data of snow cover to see how well it represented soot and snowfall. The model performed well, and taking into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of the model, the team focused on the soot.

    While the soot tracker showed where the soot fell or where it hovered in the air above ground, the tracker also showed the path the soot took to its ending position.

    “We got a vertical and horizontal view of the pathways,” said Wang. “Not only where the soot came from, but also how the air moves it, and how much got removed on its path.”

    Soot scooting boogie

    By zooming in on the plateau, the scientists got a great bit of detail, more than would have shown up on a global map. In the close up, the majority of soot that arrives in the Himalayas and the central Plateau comes from biofuel and fossil fuel burning in India; soot arriving in the northeast Plateau in all seasons and the southeast Plateau in the summer come from fossil fuel and biomass burning in China. In the northwest Plateau, emissions from central Asia and the Middle East also contribute significantly.

    Running the computer model in this way not only showed which source sent the most soot over, but also can determine which source would make the biggest impact if emissions are cut. The soot destination that changed the most was the northwest Plateau by cuts in central Asia’s fossil fuel burning. Cuts in South Asia can effectively reduce the soot level on the entire plateau, especially in the Himalayas.

    “The model can be used to test how efficient it would be to cut any particular amount of worldwide emissions,” said Wang. “For example, if we wanted to cut global emissions by an eighth, our results can tell us where to cut from to make the biggest reduction on the Tibetan Plateau.”

    The authors suggest this type of research could be helpful to policymakers interested in reducing the effects of climate change at the Third Pole.

    This work was supported by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, China Scholarship Fund, National Basic Research Program of China. Computing experiments used DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s NERSC computing resources, a DOE Office of Science user facility.

    See the full article here.

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    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is one of the United States Department of Energy National Laboratories, managed by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The main campus of the laboratory is in Richland, Washington.

    PNNL scientists conduct basic and applied research and development to strengthen U.S. scientific foundations for fundamental research and innovation; prevent and counter acts of terrorism through applied research in information analysis, cyber security, and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; increase the U.S. energy capacity and reduce dependence on imported oil; and reduce the effects of human activity on the environment. PNNL has been operated by Battelle Memorial Institute since 1965.

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  • richardmitnick 11:47 am on April 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From U Texas: “New evidence shows carbon important to ocean life that survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction 252 million years ago” 

    U Texas Arlington

    University of Texas at Arlington

    April 3, 2015
    Bridget Lewis

    1
    Backscattered electron image of Hyperammina deformis. Courtesy Merlynd and Galina Nestell

    2
    Image of H. deformis taken with a DXR™xi Raman imaging microscope, with boxes indicating where the test was analyzed.

    A new study led by scientists with The University of Texas at Arlington demonstrates for the first time how elemental carbon became an important construction material of some forms of ocean life after one of the greatest mass extinctions in the history of Earth more than 252 million years ago.

    As the Permian Period of the Paleozoic Era ended and the Triassic Period of the Mesozoic Era began, more than 90 percent of terrestrial and marine species became extinct. Various proposals have been suggested for this extinction event, including extensive volcanic activity, global heating, or even one or more extraterrestrial impacts.

    5
    Plot of extinction intensity (percentage of genera that are present in each interval of time but do not exist in the following interval) vs time in the past for marine genera.[1] Geological periods are annotated (by abbreviation and colour) above. The Permian–Triassic extinction event is the most significant event for marine genera, with just over 50% (according to this source) failing to survive.

    The work is explained in the paper, High influx of carbon in walls of agglutinated foraminifers during the Permian–Triassic transition in global oceans, which is published in the March edition of International Geology Review.

    Researchers focused on a section of the latest Permian aged rocks in Vietnam, just south of the Chinese border, where closely spaced samples were collected and studied from about a four-meter interval in the boundary strata.

    Merlynd Nestell, professor of earth and environmental sciences in the UT Arlington College of Science and a co-author of the paper, said there was extensive volcanic activity in both the Northern and the Southern Hemispheres during the Permian–Triassic transition.

    “Much of the volcanic activity was connected with the extensive Siberian flood basalt known as the Siberian Traps that emerged through Permian aged coal deposits and, of course, the burning of coal created CO2,” Nestell said.

    Temp 1
    The extent of the Siberian Traps. (Map in German)

    He noted that there was also synchronous volcanic activity in what is now Australia and southern China that could have burned Permian vegetation. The carbon from ash accumulated in the atmosphere and marine environment and was used by some marine microorganisms in the construction of their shells, something they had not done before.

    3
    Galina and Merlynd Nestell

    This new discovery documents elemental carbon as being a major construction component of the tiny shells of single-celled agglutinated foraminifers, ostracodes, and worm tubes that made up part of the very limited population of bottom-dwelling marine organisms surviving the extinction event.

    “Specimens of the boundary interval foraminifers seen in slices of rock that were ground thin and studied from other places in the world revealed black layers,” said Galina P. Nestell, study co-author and adjunct research professor of earth and environmental sciences at UT Arlington. “But nobody really checked the composition of the black material.”

    Nestell said this phenomenon has never been reported although sequences of rocks that cross this important Permian–Triassic boundary have been studied in Iran, Hungary, China, Turkey, Slovenia and many other parts of the world.

    For the study, Asish Basu, chair of earth and environmental sciences at UT Arlington, analyzed clusters of iron pyrite attached to the walls of the foraminifer shells for lead isotopes. Data from these pyrite clusters support the presence of products of coal combustion that contributed to the high input of carbon into the marine environment immediately after the extinction event.

    Brooks Ellwood, emeritus professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at UT Arlington and a professor in the Louisiana State University Department of Geology and Geophysics, collected the samples to study the Permian–Triassic boundary interval using magnetic and geochemical properties. He and his colleague Luu Thi Phuong Lan of the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology in Hanoi, Vietnam, also collected the samples used in the biostratigraphic work by the Nestells and Bruce Wardlaw of the Eastern Geology and Paleoclimate Science Center at the U.S. Geological Survey and adjunct professor at UT Arlington.

    By using time-series analysis of magnetic measurements, Ellwood discovered the extinction event to have lasted about 28,000 years. It ended about 91,000 years before the actual Permian–Triassic boundary level – as defined worldwide by the first appearance of the fossil conodont species Hindeodus parvus – identification done by Wardlaw.

    Galina Nestell said the high carbon levels began after the extinction event about 82,000 years before the official boundary horizon and continued until about 3,000 years after the Permian–Triassic boundary horizon. The boundary horizon is calculated to be 252.2 million years before present.

    Other co-authors who contributed to parts of the study include Andrew Hunt, EES associate professor at UT Arlington, Nilotpal Ghosh of the University of Rochester; Harry Rowe of the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin; Jonathan Tomkin of the University of Illinois, Urbana; and Kenneth Ratcliffe of Chemostrat Inc. in Houston.

    See the full article here.

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    U Texas Arlington Campus

    The University of Texas at Arlington is a growing research powerhouse committed to life-enhancing discovery, innovative instruction, and caring community engagement. An educational leader in the heart of the thriving North Texas region, UT Arlington nurtures minds within an environment that values excellence, ingenuity, and diversity.

    Guided by world-class faculty members, the University’s more than 48,000 students in Texas and around the world represent 120 countries and pursue more than 180 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in a broad range of disciplines. UT Arlington is dedicated to producing the lifelong learners and critical thinkers our region and nation demand. More than 60 percent of the University’s 190,000 alumni live in North Texas and contribute to our annual economic impact of $12.8 billion in the region.

    With a growing number of campus residents, UT Arlington has become a first-choice university for students seeking a vibrant college experience. In addition to receiving a first-rate education, our students participate in a robust slate of co-curricular activities that prepare them to become the next generation of leaders.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:28 am on February 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon studies,   

    From Harvard: “Preventing greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere” 

    Harvard University

    Harvard University

    February 5, 2015
    Paul Karoff

    Microcapsules offer a new approach to carbon capture and storage at power plants

    1
    Scientists from Harvard University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed CO2-absorbing microcapsules with significant performance advantages over the materials currently used for carbon capture at power plants. This illustration of the absorption process is superimposed on a fluorescent image of the microcapsules. (Image courtesy of John Vericella, Chris Spadaccini, and Roger Aines, LLNL; James Hardin and Jennifer Lewis, Harvard University; and Nature.)

    A novel class of materials that enable a safer, cheaper, and more energy-efficient process for removing greenhouse gas from power plant emissions has been developed by a multi-institution team of researchers. The approach could be an important advance in carbon capture and sequestration (CCS).

    The team, led by scientists from Harvard University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, employed a microfluidic assembly technique to produce microcapsules that contain liquid sorbents encased in highly permeable polymer shells. They have significant performance advantages over the carbon-absorbing materials used in current CCS technology.

    The work is described in a paper published online today in the journal Nature Communications.

    “Microcapsules have been used in a variety of applications—for example, in pharmaceuticals, food flavoring, cosmetics, and agriculture—for controlled delivery and release, but this is one of the first demonstrations of this approach for controlled capture,” says Jennifer A. Lewis, the Hansjörg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and a co-lead author. Lewis is also a core faculty member of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

    2
    This image shows the flow-focusing microfluidic capillary device used to produce the silicone microcapsules, where fluids 1, 2 and 3 correspond to the carbonate solution, ultraviolet-curable silicone, and an outer aqueous solution, respectively. (Image courtesy of John Vericella, Chris Spadaccini, and Roger Aines, LLNL; James Hardin and Jennifer Lewis, Harvard University; and Nature.

    Power generating plants are the single largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that traps heat and makes the planet warmer. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, coal- and natural gas–fired plants were responsible for one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2012.

    That’s why the agency has proposed rules mandating dramatically reduced carbon emissions at all new fossil fuel–fired power plants. Satisfying the new standards will require operators to equip plants with carbon-trapping technology.

    Current carbon capture technology uses caustic amine-based solvents to separate CO2 from the flue gas escaping a facility’s smokestacks. But state-of-the-art processes are expensive, result in a significant reduction in a power plant’s output, and yield toxic byproducts. The new technique employs an abundant and environmentally benign sorbent: sodium carbonate, a.k.a. kitchen-grade baking soda. The microencapsulated carbon sorbents (MECS) achieve an order-of-magnitude increase in CO2 absorption rates compared to sorbents currently used in carbon capture. Another advantage: amines break down over time, while carbonates have a virtually limitless shelf life.

    3
    This schematic illustration shows the encapsulated liquid carbon capture process in which carbon dioxide (CO2) gas diffuses through a highly permeable silicone shell and is absorbed by a liquid carbonate core. The polymer microcapsules are then heated to release absorbed CO2 for subsequent collection. (Image courtesy of John Vericella, Chris Spadaccini, and Roger Aines, LLNL; James Hardin and Jennifer Lewis, Harvard University; and Nature.)

    “MECS provide a new way to capture carbon with fewer environmental issues,” says Roger D. Aines, leader of the fuel cycle innovations program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and a co-lead author. “Capturing the world’s carbon emissions is a huge job; we need technology that can be applied to many kinds of carbon dioxide sources with the public’s full confidence in the safety and sustainability.”

    Researchers at LLNL and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab are now working on enhancements to the capture process to bring the technology to scale.

    The emission-scrubbing potential of CCS is not limited to the electric generation sector; Aines says that the MECS-based approach can also be tailored to industrial processes like steel and cement production, significant greenhouse gas sources.

    “These permeable silicone beads could be a ‘sliced-bread’ breakthrough for CO2 capture—efficient, easy-to-handle, minimal waste, and cheap to make,” says Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the research. “Durable, safe, and secure capsules containing solvents tailored to diverse applications can place CO2 capture for CCS firmly onto the cost-reduction pathway.”

    MECS are produced using a double capillary device in which the flow rates of three fluids—a carbonate solution combined with a catalyst for enhanced CO2 absorption, a photocurable silicone that forms the capsule shell, and an aqueous solution—can be independently controlled.

    “Encapsulation allows you to combine the advantages of solid capture media and liquid capture media in the same platform,” says Lewis. “It is also quite flexible, in that both the core and shell chemistries can be independently modified and optimized.”

    “This innovative gas separation platform provides large surface areas while eliminating a number of operational issues including corrosion, evaporative losses, and fouling,” notes Ah-Hyung (Alissa) Park, chair in applied climate science and associate professor of Earth and environmental engineering at Columbia University, who was not involved in the research.

    Lewis has previously conducted groundbreaking research in the 3D printing of functional materials, including tissue constructs with embedded vasculature, lithium-ion microbatteries, and ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber epoxy materials.

    Funding for the encapsulated liquid carbonates work was provided by the Innovative Materials and Processes for Advanced Carbon Capture Technology program of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E).

    Other authors who contributed to the Nature Communications article include: John Vericella, Sarah Baker, Joshuah Stolaroff, Eric Duoss, James Lewicki, William Floyd, Carlos Valdez, William Smith, Joe Satcher Jr., William Bourcier and Chris Spadaccini, all of LLNL; James O. Hardin IV of Harvard University; and Elizabeth Glogowski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    See the full article here.

    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

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  • richardmitnick 1:05 pm on January 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon studies,   

    From ESA: “Is Europe an underestimated sink for carbon dioxide?” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    5 January 2015
    No Writer Credit

    A new study using satellite data suggests that Europe’s vegetation extracts more carbon from the atmosphere than previously thought.

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide is the most important human-made greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Large areas of vegetation, such as forests, are considered carbon ‘sinks’ because they assist in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

    t
    Carbon dioxide in Earth’s Troposphere

    Without the natural carbon cycle, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration would be much higher and, consequently, the effects of global warming would be much larger.

    t
    Global mean land-ocean temperature change from 1880 to 2013, relative to the 1951–1980 mean. The black line is the annual mean and the red line is the 5-year running mean. The green bars show uncertainty estimates. Source: NASA GISS

    Current knowledge about the European terrestrial biospheric carbon sink mostly comes from ‘inverse modelling’ studies using in situ measurements, and from inventories of biomass and ecosystem studies.

    To determine the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by Europe’s vegetation, scientists from the University of Bremen analysed carbon dioxide concentration measurements from satellites.

    The data were generated by the GHG-CCI project under ESA’s Climate Change Initiative, Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It included eight years of data from the Sciamachy instrument on ESA’s Envisat mission, and one year of data from Japan’s greenhouse gas-observing satellite, GOSAT.

    ESA Envisat
    ESA/Envisat

    GOSAT JE
    GOSAT

    Each satellite dataset was generated using a different method, ensuring that the results did not depend on a potential calculation problem specific to a single method. All calculations showed that Europe’s terrestrial vegetation – between the Atlantic Ocean and Ural mountains – absorbs about twice the amount of carbon per year more than previous estimates.

    a
    Average satellite carbon dioxide concentrations over Europe

    The use of in situ carbon dioxide measurements in inverse modelling yielded similar results as measurements derived from biomass inventories. But the in situ stations are sparsely distributed across western Europe. Satellite measurements, however, cover the entire European continent and acquire spatially denser data.

    “Our estimate is at the high end of the uncertainty range estimated by previous studies, which did not use any satellite carbon dioxide observations,” said Maximilian Reuter, lead author of the study.

    “Using satellite data for this application is challenging, as even small measurement errors can result in significant errors of the strength of the inferred carbon source or sink. This is because the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is already quite high, so that even a large source or sink of carbon dioxide only results in a quite small relative change of the atmospheric carbon dioxide amount which we are measuring.”

    The study was published recently in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

    Frederic Chevallier, a climate modeller working at France’s Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, and leader of the GHG-CCI’s Climate Research Group, notes, “The various satellite products tested in this study all suggest a large continental sink. However, differences in the inner-European carbon dioxide patterns should be subject to future research.

    “Scientists agree that there are still open questions on carbon sinks, especially for the northern hemisphere, and that more research has to be performed on understanding the differences found by using satellite and in-situ carbon dioxide measurements and biomass inventory information.”

    A future extended in-situ network in Europe, along with NASA’s recently launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 and the possible [ESA] CarbonSat mission – one of the two candidates for ESA’s eighth Earth Explorer – will potentially provide the data to continue such research to clarify these open questions on Europe’s and the global carbon budget.

    NASA Orbiting Carbon Satellite 2
    NASA/Orbiting Carbon Observatory 2

    ESA CarbonSat
    ESA [proposed] CarbonSat

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:53 am on January 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon studies,   

    From Carnegie: “Major Milestones for Carnegie-hosted Deep Carbon Observatory” 

    Carnegie Institution of Washington bloc

    Carnegie Institution of Washington

    December 15, 2014

    Recent advances in our understanding of the quantities, movements, forms and origin of carbon in Earth are summarized in a just-published report. The research represents fast-paced progress on the depths of the biosphere, Earth, what erupts from volcanoes and leaks from sea floors, what descends back into Earth’s great depths, and the nature of carbon-bearing materials within planets.

    1

    The Carnegie Institution for Science is the institutional home of the DCO Secretariat. Carnegie’s Robert Hazen and Russell Hemley are the executive and co-executive directors of this ambitious, transdisciplinary, 10-year effort. The group issued a midterm scientific report at the AGU today entitled, Carbon in Earth: Quantities, Movements, Forms and Origins now available online and in print. The research has been conducted by an international team under the auspices of the Deep Carbon Observatory.

    The carbon in the atmosphere, ocean, on the surface, life, and other shallow, near surface reservoirs accounts for only about 10% of Earth’s carbon. The mysterious 90% is what the Deep Carbon Observatory is exploring. The unique, 10-year program began in 2009 to explore, experiment, and build a new scientific field with a network of scientists from more than 40 countries. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation awarded Carnegie the initial grant to fund the Deep Carbon Observatory at the institution’s Geophysical Laboratory. Other funders include other scientific organizations, institutions, and academies around the world.

    DCO scientists will also present more than 100 talks and posters at the American Geophysical Union meeting in progress beginning today in San Francisco.

    “The Deep Carbon Observatory has played a key role in promoting studies around the world of carbon in Earth and in extreme environments,” remarked Hemley. “Enormous progress has been made during the first five years. However, there is still a lot we don’t understand about this essential element and the environments in which it is found. The community is excited about answering many of the remaining questions during the second five years of the program.”

    See the full article here.

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    Carnegie Institution of Washington Bldg

    ndrew Carnegie established a unique organization dedicated to scientific discovery “to encourage, in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research, and discovery and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind…” The philosophy was and is to devote the institution’s resources to “exceptional” individuals so that they can explore the most intriguing scientific questions in an atmosphere of complete freedom. Carnegie and his trustees realized that flexibility and freedom were essential to the institution’s success and that tradition is the foundation of the institution today as it supports research in the Earth, space, and life sciences.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:13 pm on December 18, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon studies, , NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2   

    From JPL: “NASA’s Spaceborne Carbon Counter Maps New Details” 

    JPL

    December 18, 2014
    Carol Rasmussen
    NASA Earth Science News Team

    The first global maps of atmospheric carbon dioxide from NASA’s new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission demonstrate its performance and promise, showing elevated carbon dioxide concentrations across the Southern Hemisphere from springtime biomass burning.

    At a media briefing today at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California; Colorado State University (CSU), Fort Collins; and the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, presented the maps of carbon dioxide and a related phenomenon known as solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence and discussed their potential implications.

    A global map covering Oct. 1 through Nov. 17 shows elevated carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere above northern Australia, southern Africa and eastern Brazil.

    g
    Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from Oct. 1 through Nov. 11, as recorded by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    2
    This map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Aug. through Oct. 2014 as measured by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

    “Preliminary analysis shows these signals are largely driven by the seasonal burning of savannas and forests,” said OCO-2 Deputy Project Scientist Annmarie Eldering, of JPL. The team is comparing these measurements with data from other satellites to clarify how much of the observed concentration is likely due to biomass burning.

    The time period covered by the new maps is spring in the Southern Hemisphere, when agricultural fires and land clearing are widespread. The impact of these activities on global carbon dioxide has not been well quantified. As OCO-2 acquires more data, Eldering said, its Southern Hemisphere measurements could lead to an improved understanding of the relative importance in these regions of photosynthesis in tropical plants, which removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and biomass burning, which releases carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

    The early OCO-2 data hint at some potential surprises to come. “The agreement between OCO-2 and models based on existing carbon dioxide data is remarkably good, but there are some interesting differences,” said Christopher O’Dell, an assistant professor at CSU and member of OCO-2’s science team. “Some of the differences may be due to systematic errors in our measurements, and we are currently in the process of nailing these down. But some of the differences are likely due to gaps in our current knowledge of carbon sources in certain regions — gaps that OCO-2 will help fill in.”

    Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has no distinguishing features to show what its source was. Elevated carbon dioxide over a region could have a natural cause — for example, a drought that reduces plant growth — or a human cause. At today’s briefing, JPL scientist Christian Frankenberg introduced a map using a new type of data analysis from OCO-2 that can help scientists distinguish the gas’s natural sources.

    Through photosynthesis, plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and use sunlight to synthesize the carbon into food. Plants end up re-emitting about one percent of the sunlight at longer wavelengths. Using one of OCO-2’s three spectrometer instruments, scientists can measure the re-emitted light, known as solar-induced chlorophyll fluorescence (SIF). This measurement complements OCO-2’s carbon dioxide data with information on when and where plants are drawing carbon from the atmosphere.

    “Where OCO-2 really excels is the sheer amount of data being collected within a day, about one million measurements across a narrow swath,” Frankenberg said. “For fluorescence, this enables us, for the first time, to look at features on the five- to 10-kilometer scale on a daily basis.” SIF can be measured even through moderately thick clouds, so it will be especially useful in understanding regions like the Amazon where cloud cover thwarts most spaceborne observations.

    The changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide that OCO-2 seeks to measure are so small that the mission must take unusual precautions to ensure the instrument is free of errors. For that reason, the spacecraft was designed so that it can make an extra maneuver. In addition to gathering a straight line of data like a lawnmower swath, the instrument can point at a single target on the ground for a total of seven minutes as it passes overhead. That requires the spacecraft to turn sideways and make a half cartwheel to keep the target in its sights.

    The targets OCO-2 uses are stations in the Total Carbon Column Observing Network (TCCON), a collaborative effort of multiple international institutions. TCCON has been collecting carbon dioxide data for about five years, and its measurements are fully calibrated and extremely accurate. At the same time that OCO-2 targets a TCCON site, a ground-based instrument at the site makes the same measurement. The extent to which the two measurements agree indicates how well calibrated the OCO-2 sensors are.

    Additional maps released today showed the results of these targeting maneuvers over two TCCON sites in California and one in Australia. “Early results are very promising,” said Paul Wennberg, a professor at Caltech and head of the TCCON network. “Over the next few months, the team will refine the OCO-2 data, and we anticipate that these comparisons will continue to improve.”

    To learn more about OCO-2, visit:

    http://oco2.jpl.nasa.gov/

    NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. The agency shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

    For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities this year, see:

    http://www.nasa.gov/earthrightnow

    See the full article here.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge [1], on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 5:54 pm on December 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Carbon Dioxide, , Carbon studies,   

    From Huff Post: “These 6 Countries Produce Nearly 60 Percent Of Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions” 

    Huffington Post
    The Huffington Post

    12/05/2014
    DINA CAPPIELLO

    Six countries produce nearly 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. China and the United States combine for more than two-fifths. The planet’s future will be shaped by what these top carbon polluters do about the heat-trapping gases blamed for global warming.

    How they rank, what they’re doing:

    CHINA

    s
    A general view shows residential and commercial buildings on a hazy day in Shanghai on November 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE

    It emits nearly twice the amount of greenhouse gases as the United States, which it surpassed in 2006 as the top emitter of carbon dioxide. China accounts for about 30 percent of global emissions. U.S. government estimates show China doubling its emissions by 2040, barring major changes. Hugely reliant on fossil fuels for electricity and steel production, China until recently was reluctant to set firm targets for emissions, which continue to rise, although at a slower rate. That changed when Beijing announced last month in a deal with Washington that it would stem greenhouse gas emission growth by 2030. About a week later, China’s Cabinet announced a coal consumption cap by 2020 at about 62 percent of the energy mix. While politically significant, the U.S.-China deal alone is expected to have little effect on the global thermostat.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 11 billion tons

    2013 Population: 1.36 billion

    UNITED STATES

    2
    In this March 8, 2014 photo, steam from the Jeffrey Energy Center coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the setting sun near St. Mary’s, Kansas. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

    It has never entered into a binding treaty to curb greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, it has cut more carbon pollution than any other nation. It is on pace to meet a 2009 Obama administration pledge to reduce emissions 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Carbon emissions are up, though, as the U.S. rebounds from recession. President Barack Obama has largely leaned on existing laws, not Congress, to make progress — boosting automobile fuel economy and proposing to reduce carbon pollution from new and existing power plants. The White House vowed in the China deal to double the pace of emissions reductions, lowering carbon pollution 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. Expect resistance when Republicans control Congress in January.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 5.8 billion tons

    2013 Population: 316 million

    INDIA

    3
    In this Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014 photo, smoke rises from chimneys of brick kilns on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)

    The U.S.-China agreement puts pressure on the Indian government, which could announce new targets during a planned Obama visit in January. Meantime, India plans to double coal production to feed a power grid still suffering blackouts. Its challenge: to curb greenhouse gases as its population and economy grow. In 2010, India voluntarily committed to a 20 percent to 25 percent cut in carbon emissions relative to economic output by 2020 against 2005 levels. It has made recent strides installing solar power, which it is expected to increase fivefold to 100 gigawatts by 2030. Under current policies, its carbon dioxide emissions will double by then, according to the International Energy Agency.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 2.6 billion tons

    2013 population: 1.2 billion

    RUSSIA

    4
    Electrical light illuminates a petroleum cracking tower at the Lukoil-Nizhegorodnefteorgsintez oil refinery, operated by OAO Lukoil, in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014. (Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    It never faced mandatory cuts under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol because its emissions fell so much after the Soviet Union collapsed. A major oil and gas producer, Russia in 2013 adopted a domestic greenhouse gas target that would trim emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. Russia’s carbon dioxide emissions today average 35 percent lower than 1990 levels. To meet its goal, Russia has set a goal for 2020 of boosting energy efficiency 40 percent and expanding renewable energy 4.5 percent. The state-owned gas company Gazprom has energy conservation plans, as has the federal housing program. But in 2006, Russia announced a move to more coal- and nuclear-fired electricity to export more oil and natural gas.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 2 billion tons

    2013 population: 143.5 million

    JAPAN

    5
    A passenger jet flies over factory facilities in the Keihin Industrial Zone in Kawasaki City, near Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008. (Toshiyuki Aizawa/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

    The shuttering of its nuclear power plants after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster forced a drastic change in plans to curb carbon pollution. In November, Japanese officials said they would now reduce greenhouse gases 3.8 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. With more fossil fuels in the mix, Japan’s emissions will be up 3 percent from 1990 levels, its benchmark for its pledge at a 2009 United Nations summit in Copenhagen to reduce emissions 25 percent. Beginning in 2012, Japan placed a carbon tax based on emissions of fossil fuels, with the proceeds going to renewable energy and energy-saving projects.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 1.4 billion tons

    2013 population: 127 million

    GERMANY

    6
    In this picture taken Thursday, April 3, 2014, giant machines dig for brown coal at the open-cast mining Garzweiler near the city of Grevenbroich, western Germany. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

    It has outperformed the 21 percent reduction in greenhouse gases it agreed to in 1997. Emissions are down 25 percent against 1990 levels. To comply with 2020 European Union-set goals, Germany must reduce greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2020. On Wednesday, it boosted subsidies for energy efficiency to help it get there. Germany has in recent years seen back-to-back emissions increases due to higher demand for electricity and a switch to coal after Fukushima, which prompted a nuclear power phase-out. Coal use is down this year and renewables continue to gain electricity market share. Renewables already account for a quarter of Germany’s electrical production. The country plans to boost that share to 80 percent by 2050 — and put a million electric cars on the road by 2020.

    2013 CO2 emissions: 836 million tons

    2013 population: 80.6 million

    ___

    See the full article here.

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