air pollution Current Affairs - 2019

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A new Catalyst: To Convert Carbon Dioxide into Natural Gas

The Engineers at the Stanford University have developed a new catalyst that helps to turn carbon dioxide from cars into fuels like propane or natural gas.

About the Research

Catalysts induce chemical reactions without being used up in the reaction. In this new research scientists have combined ruthenium and iron oxide nano particles to form the new catalyst. The ruthenium nuggets sit in the core of the catalyst surrounded by an outer sheath of iron. This arrangement activates the hydrocarbon formation from Carbon-Dioxide.

Earlier methods

The earlier methods invented so far have only produced the simplest hydrocarbon methane from effluents of vehicles. This method produces propane and other higher hydro carbons including natural gas. Also, earlier methods involve two steps of processes. They first reduce carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide and then the second step involves combining carbon monoxide and hydrogen to form hydrocarbons

Ruthenium

It is a transition element belonging to platinum group of elements. It is gaining importance in the recent years after scientists discovered its electrical applications in contacts and thin film resistors. Since then the annual production of ruthenium from the platinum ores have increased from 19 tons in 2009 to 35.5 tons in 2017.

New Kiln technology in Punjab: 70% emissions cut

Following orders from NGT (National Green Tribunal) and CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) the Punjab Government had ordered the closure of traditional kilns in March 2019. This was mainly to control the toxicity of the NCR (National Capital Region). The stubble burning, industrial and kiln smoke from Punjab, brought by the retreating monsoon during this time, slogged Delhi making lives difficult. Schools are closed and the routine normal life is highly disrupted.

Scenario in Punjab

The new Kiln Technology cuts the emissions by 70-80%. It also saves fuel for the users. The districts of Punjab like Barnala and Sangpur have seen 100% conversion. Around 800-900 kilns in Punjab are yet to convert to the new technology according to Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The kiln industry in Punjab employs 5 lakh workers. It contributes to 8% of brick production in the country producing 15-20 billion bricks.

Implementation

The new technology is being implemented by the DST. The DST provides technical assistance to the traditional kilns to get converted. This is being done through the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology

About the Technology

In the new kiln technology, the bricks are arranged in zig-zag pattern. This allows hot air to cover long path unlike traditional kilns. The heat transfer is improved due to zig-zag pattern. This makes the operation more efficient and reduces coal consumption by 20%. It also uses fans to regulate air.