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Articles by Susanne Rust

Susanne Rust is an investigative reporter for California Watch focused on the environment.

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As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels continue to climb, a team of California scientists has created a new material that will help reduce the amount escaping from smokestacks and power plants.

The material, called polyethylenimine, or PEI, acts like a carbon dioxide fly-tape trap, attracting the greenhouse-gas molecules and sticking to them so they can’t escape.

Indeed, carbon dioxide is so attracted to the material that the team says it can pull the molecule right out of the air, something other carbon filter materials have not been able to do well.

“This is really an important quality,” said Alain Goeppert, a senior researcher at the Loker Hydrocarbon Research Institute at the University of Southern California. In the near future, it will enable small-scale removal of carbon dioxide from air in enclosed spaces, such as submarines and manned spacecraft, where carbon dioxide buildup can be hazardous, or in laboratories, where carbon dioxide can hinder engineering or the chemical reactions of certain products.

PEI may have long-term applications, too, for wide-scale removal of the gas from air.

In addition, the ... Read more

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