by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Bernie Sanders tweeted, along with a video of his floor speech, “I’m once again asking my colleagues in the Senate to look at what is happening around the world and find the courage to stand up to the fossil fuel industry.” Stopping climate change demands nothing less than the abolition of the fossil fuels industry in the view of Sanders and the other Green New Dealers.
However, even as the progressive Left inveighs against oil, gas, and coal, scientists are developing ways to recycle carbon dioxide emissions to make useful products. While a company called NET has developed a natural gas power plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide, the private sector is working on ways to make everything from liquid fuel to food from the captured gas. Even Elon Musk would like to use carbon dioxide to make rocket fuel for his private space program.
Now, according to Phys.org, a group of researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago has developed a way to turn carbon dioxide into a substance called ethylene. Just add water and electricity and the process transforms 6 tons of carbon dioxide into 1 ton of ethylene. Manufacturers use ethylene to make a variety of plastic products, antifreeze, vinyl siding, and sterilizing agents for medical instruments.
The electricity can come from any source — say, a solar array. The power can even come from the same power plant that captures the carbon dioxide if the conversion operation is located next to it.
Ethylene is currently created by a process known as cracking, which produces 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide for every ton of ethylene created. The University of Illinois Chicago process is not only carbon-neutral but carbon-negative.