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Scientists develop a system for trapping CO2 that could could slow the effects of global warming

Mankind might be slowly destroying planet Earth, but there’s also a chance we could be the ones to save it from ourselves. A group of scientists led by Ian Power of Trent University in Canada have announced the development of a system that can trap CO2 in a naturally occurring mineral at a much faster rate than it can on its own, potentially opening the door for new weapons against climate change.

Industrialized nations continue to spew various greenhouse gasses into our planet’s atmosphere at an alarming rate, gradually increasing the temperature of Earth on a global scale as more and more heat from the Sun is trapped inside. Carbon dioxide is one of those gasses, and developing a system for taking some of it out of the atmosphere would be a huge step toward mitigating the damage humans are causing to the planet.

In their work, the scientists studied how a specific mineral, called magnesite, forms. They knew that the mineral can trap CO2, storing it for long periods of time and removing it from the atmosphere, but research into how it accomplished this feat was minimal. They began by closely studying the formation of the mineral before testing new ways to potentially speed it up.

Eventually the team stumbled upon the solution by using tiny balls of polystyrene to speed up for the formation of the mineral by a huge degree. The process can yield magnesite in just 72 days, rather than the hundreds of thousands of years that it takes to form naturally.

“Using microspheres means that we were able to speed up magnesite formation by orders of magnitude,” Power said in a statement. “This process takes place at room temperature, meaning that magnesite production is extremely energy efficient.”

It’s an awesome development, but their work isn’t done yet. For the process to actually be used to remove large quantities of CO2 from the atmosphere it has to be tested at scale. The scientific foundation is certainly there, but we may not know how important this discovery is for some time.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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