By Kristin Eichamer
A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers discovered a type of clay commonly used in cat litter is effective at removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
Professor Desirée Plata and her team were inspired by methanotroph, a seafloor-dwelling bacteria that metabolize methane without dangerously high temperatures or expensive materials, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The team found that the porous structure of the clay material zeolite made it ideal for absorbing methane and turning it into carbon dioxide, a less potent greenhouse gas, the Wall Street Journal continued. They also found that, when treated with small amounts of copper, zeolite was able to effectively remove methane from the air even in areas with very low concentrations, making the compound ideal for targeting widely dispersed sources of methane emissions, reported MIT News.
Unlike most current methane capturing techniques, which often rely on expensive catalysts and extremely high temperatures to break down the gas, Plata and her team found the “dirt cheap” solution could reduce projected global warming by as much as a half-degree Celsius by the end of the century, according to the Wall Street Journal. (RELATED: EPA Moves To Cut Methane Emissions — But What Will It Accomplish?)
Plata continued, explaining that the copper-enhanced zeolite could stop methane accumulation in the atmosphere of the world’s coal mine emissions by using zeolite filters to capture mining emissions. Since their discovery, the MIT team received $2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to create zeolite-based filters and attachments for coal mines, farms and other sources of potent greenhouse gas, The Wall Street Journal reported.
A dirt-cheap solution? Common clay materials may help curb methane emissions: With special treatment, minerals called zeolites — commonly found in cat litter — can efficiently remove the greenhouse gas from the air, researchers report. https://t.co/CFUHrjKfY5 pic.twitter.com/d18pTWguEs
— Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (@MIT) January 12, 2022
Methane has been recognized as a greater threat to the atmosphere in the short-term compared to carbon dioxide, with reports showing methane producing 84 times the warming effects of carbon dioxides in the first 20 years of its emittance, according to the Carbon Herald. (RELATED: Voters Tell Biden Forget Climate Change And Focus On Gas Prices)
While the MIT team’s findings are still based primarily on in-lab results, the researchers plan to carry out tests this summer in South Dakota where they can test the effectiveness of the copper-enhanced zeolite compound in the damp environments of dairy farms, another source responsible for producing large amounts of methane, reported the Wall Street Journa