Questions for ‘New process can transform urban CO2 pollution into a resource’

smoke stacks in an urban area pump pollution into the sky

Clouds of water vapor rise from smokestacks at industrial plants seen here. Not visible are the large plumes of carbon-dioxide gas also being emitted by those smokestacks. A new technology may help remove the carbon from that gas and turn it into a valuable raw material.

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To accompany New process can transform urban CO2 pollution into a resource’ 


Before Reading:

  1. As a class, discuss the effect of greenhouse gases on global temperatures. In what ways might this those temperature changes impact people? Work together to list potential sources of greenhouse gasses within your community. Individually, write down the source that you think is the biggest source of greenhouse gases. Briefly explain your choice.
  2. Imagine a student mixes two liquids. How might this student know whether the liquids reacted chemically during that mixing? What might this student see or feel that would indicate a chemical reaction had occurred? Consider that the reacting molecules are made of atoms. Take a guess: What do you think happens to atoms within molecules during a chemical reaction?

During Reading:

  1. What does the Australian research team offer to do to atmospheric CO2? If successful, what types of products could this carbon be used to make?
  2. What are “molten metals”? What is a catalyst?
  3. Why do solids not work well as metal catalysts for the type of chemical reaction being discussed in this story? Rather than a solid metal, what form of metal does Torben Daeneke’s team use?
  4. What two metals did Daeneke’s team mix to create their alloy? 
  5. Explain how the team used CO2 and test tubes filled with alloy to carry out their experiment.
  6. Why does Daeneke think longer tubes might work better than shorter ones? 
  7. According to Nick Burke, what is made “simple” by this new technology? 

After Reading:

  1. Imagine you are a state’s governor or the prime minister of Australia. Specify one industry or factory where you recommend your residents implement this technology. Explain your choice.
  2. Provide one example of a greenhouse gas that contains carbon. What are some examples of substances that contain solid carbon? (If you aren’t sure, do a quick internet search.) Based on what you’ve learned, do you think this solid form of carbon contributes to climate change in the same way that a gaseous carbon molecule might? Identify an aspect of this study that supports your answer.
  3. During photosynthesis, plants absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and use that carbon to grow and build new solid plant matter. Regarding CO2, identify one similarity between the chemical reactions in this study and the photosynthetic reactions in plants.