Researcher pursues sustainable energy through carbon dioxide conversion

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Penn State researcher Chunshan Song has a plan to address one of the most important issues facing the world today — reducing greenhouse gas emissions to curb the negative impacts of climate change.

At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, 195 countries agreed to investigate and adopt methods to reduce emissions of gases including carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere in two basic ways: naturally, through plant respiration and decomposition, as well as from human activities, such as deforestation, cement production and energy generation from burning fossil fuels.

Instead of looking at carbon dioxide as a pollutant or waste product, Song sees it as a valuable ingredient to create fuels, industrial chemicals and other materials.

Song plans to use carbon dioxide as a raw material to create fuels, chemicals and materials that are traditionally produced from petroleum. He’s a world leader in this approach, known as carbon dioxide conversion or carbon dioxide utilization, and chairs a committee for the International Conference on Carbon Dioxide Utilization (ICCDU).