Quite simply, fossil fuels are bad. They are the leading cause of global warming and due to low prices and still having an abundance of them on Earth, humans are burning fossil fuels at a rate that will continue global warming.
We will eventually run out of fossil fuels and with awareness of the damage fossil fuels cause, its evident renewable energy is the future. The difficultly is that we need to bridge a gap from our current fossil fuel usage to the point where we are 100% renewable energy and engineers believe them may have discovered how to bridge that gap to help prevent the further prevention of carbon dioxide pollution.
The solution, which is a possible form of a stop-gap would use chemical looping. It involves using metal oxide “particles” in high-pressure reactors to burn fossil fuels without the need for oxygen in the air. Researchers claim that this technology would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released by 99 percent.
If this research turns out to be practical it will be a major step forward in the fight against man made climate change. We are still advancing our renewable technology and need time to get wind and solar structures built and running.
The particles used are iron oxide particles, which supply the oxygen for chemical combustion. This is known as coal-direct chemical looping (CDCL) combustion. The particles take back the oxygen from the air after the combustion has taken place, and the cycle repeats.
The research demonstrated that the life cycle of the iron oxide particles where eight months but there is a lot of concern in how scale-able the technology is. Researchers are still unsure whether producing the pellets is more cost effective than just the cost to switching completely to renewables.
The process has the potential to transform the power industry but at what cost is still the big question. As a society and world, we want to get away from all fossil fuel use. If this can help us achieve that on a practical scale, it should be a step forward but we need to keep in mind the end goal.