Questions for “New solution for carbon dioxide: Turn it into ‘green’ fuel”

an illustration of carbon dioxide and water reacting to make alcohol

An artist’s imagination of the process for changing carbon dioxide and water into alcohol.

Argonne National Laboratory

To accompany “New solution for carbon dioxide: Turn it into ‘green’ fuel


Before Reading:

1. What is a greenhouse gas? Why have these gases been getting a bad reputation in recent years?

2. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. What are some sources that spew it into the atmosphere?

During Reading:

1.  What is ethanol? In terms of the story, what makes ethanol desirable?

2.  What is a catalyst?

3.  How was the new catalyst useful for the purpose described in this story?

4.  What is the role of copper in the new project?

5.  What is the chemical formula for ethanol and where does it get each of its atoms?

6.  Why does Anna Klinkova describe herself as being a bit “skeptical” of the new catalyst?

After Reading:

1. Where do energy industries get most of the ethanol they use today? How do you think getting ethanol from CO2 would be an advantage? Describe your reasoning.

2. The ethanol in this story is just moving the CO2 used to make it into another chemical that will also be burned. Does that make burning gasoline greener? Explain your reasoning.