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Sustainability-in-Tech : Designer-Material Absorbs Carbon Faster Than Trees

Scientists at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University have published details of the discovery of a new material that can absorb carbon faster than trees, giving hope to efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Can Absorb The Most Potent Greenhouse Gasses 

Detailed in a paper published in the journal ‘Nature Synthesis,’ the scientists report how the new porous material they created has hollow, cage-like molecules with high storage capacities for greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur hexafluoride. Although the new material can absorb carbon dioxide (the most well-known greenhouse gas), the scientist pointed out that sulphur hexafluoride is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and can last thousands of years in the atmosphere.

Used Computer Modelling To Design It 

The project to create the material was a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University, the University of Liverpool, Imperial College London, the University of Southampton, and East China University of Science and Technology in China, and the team used computer modelling to “accurately predict how molecules would assemble themselves into the new type of porous material.”

It was the computer modelling specialists at Imperial College London and the University of Southampton that created the simulations which enabled the team to understand and predict how their cage molecules would assemble into this new type of porous material.

Dr Marc Little (an Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute of Chemical Sciences and an expert in porous materials) said: “Combining computational studies like ours with new AI technologies could create an unprecedented supply of new materials to solve the most pressing societal challenges, and this study is an important step in this direction.” 

In reference to the contribution of computer modelling to the discovery and could play (along with AI) to future similar discoveries, Dr Little added: “Combining computational studies like ours with new AI technologies could create an unprecedented supply of new materials to solve the most pressing societal challenges, and this study is an important step in this direction.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Organisation? 

As Dr Marc Little said: “This is an exciting discovery because we need new porous materials to help solve society’s biggest challenges, such as capturing and storing greenhouse gases.” As such, this groundbreaking discovery could represent a pivotal moment in our collective fight against the climate crisis.

At the heart of this discovery is a collaborative effort by experts in the UK and China and the ingenious use of computer modelling, a tool that played a pivotal role in unravelling the complexities of molecular assembly.

Through precise predictions facilitated by advanced computer modelling, researchers were able to engineer hollow, cage-like molecules capable of efficiently trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and the highly potent sulphur hexafluoride. This strategic fusion of scientific expertise and computational prowess underscores the immense potential of technology in catalysing transformative breakthroughs.

As highlighted by Dr Little, by marrying computational studies with emerging AI technologies, we could have a chance to unlock many more innovative solutions to society’s most pressing challenges. This study, therefore, could be seen as an important step toward a future where computational ingenuity and scientific inquiry converge to address global challenges.

Also, the integration of computer modelling and AI for future projects holds a great deal of promise, e.g. in advancing material science, renewable energy and more.

This discovery and its methodology, therefore, shows how important embracing the transformative power of technology is and will be in helping us tackle our biggest challenges going forward.

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