Carbon dioxide is a simple mixture of exactly what it sounds like; one part carbon with two oxygen atoms attached to it. Carbon dioxide is in a gaseous state at normal temperatures and its chemical equation is stated as CO2. The gas originates from many different sources around the globe. Some of the most common and highest producers of CO2 are: fossil fuel combustion, iron and steel production, natural gas refinery systems, and the manufacturing of cement. The burning of fossil fuels is the largest single producer of CO2 gas. Many people associate this with the internal combustion engine which powers the modern automobile. In fact, the largest producer of carbon dioxide, in the United States, within the fossil fuel combustion group is the generation of electricity (EPA). Transportation comes in second place in the United States for CO2 production levels. This includes the burning of gasoline, diesel fuel, and many other petroleum based fuels. Although the burning of fossil fuels happens to be the largest source of CO2 there are also natural causes of the gas within the atmosphere. The breathing of animals, volcanic eruptions, and release of CO2 from the ocean, which happens to be a large carbon “sink” (meaning that it stores mass amounts of carbon), are all natural causes of carbon dioxide.
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One of the great parts about our Earth is the natural way it can clean itself. Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas within our atmosphere. Due to this naturally occurring substance there is a natural way for decreasing the levels of CO2. The processes that absorb and consume carbon dioxide consist of the natural photosynthesis process in which plants/trees use the suns energy and convert it into food. During this process carbon dioxide is drawn in through the leaves and stored within the main mass of the plant/tree. The carbon is then drawn into the soil through the roots of the agricultural crop or tree. This is nature’s way of drawing the carbon dioxide out of the air and into the ground where it can be stored. Although the plants have temporarily removed the CO2 from the atmosphere the substance still exists and can be re-released into the atmosphere through a tilling process of the ground or digging up the soil. Even though the carbon dioxide is being released into the air again this is how nature self regulates the CO2 on its own. With naturally occurring carbon dioxide levels this process works great. However, it can’t completely compensate for human generated carbon dioxide levels which are produced today.
The CO2 emissions today are higher than natural amounts due to the burning of fossil fuels as previously mentioned. These increased emissions due to fossil fuels burning can be reduced and battled in order to try and keep the CO2 levels at a manageable amount instead of becoming out of control as the current trend is currently working toward. Technology will help us to develop machines and devices to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels. However, currently we do not have the technology to completely eliminate the gas from our emission list. In order to reduce CO2 emission levels action must be taken to enhance a device in the exhaust of modern machinery. New technologies could also be introduced to various other parts of the combustion process in order to make it more efficient. The more efficient a combustion process is, less fuel will be needed and therefore less CO2 will be produced from that running engine. A great way of reducing the carbon dioxide levels would be to switch over to a different type of fuel energy in order to receive the same amount of work time, or more, with less maintenance. One method of reducing CO2 levels is to use Carbon sequestration. This process involves capturing the exiting carbon dioxide and storing it underwater or underground in order to reduce the CO2 levels in the air. It is a very costly process but it is an option available for reduction of carbon dioxide (Zactruba).
The industrial revolution was a major improvement for the world. During this time there weren’t any regulations on carbon dioxide levels emitted from production plants. Therefore plants back then were producing large amounts of CO2 and nobody thought anything of it until testing was done at a later date. Cars built during this time period were not fitted with emissions sensors and parts due to the lack of requirements for the emissions gasses and the lack of technology during the time. Levels of various different gasses are tested every so often and in 2005 the CO2 levels were tested and the results showed an increase of 35% over the levels tested before the industrial revolution hit. This proves that the industrial revolution along with current fossil fuel burning has produced mass quantities of CO2 and placed the gas into the atmosphere (EPA).
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The increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is said to have been a contributing factor to the “global warming” effect. CO2 is named a greenhouse gas along with other gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. These retain heat and emit it at the same time. This causes a long term warming effect with increases in concentrations of the gases. Major increases in the amount of carbon dioxide will lead to this heating effect. With no mass effective way to decrease the amount of CO2 in the air it will be hard to reverse this effect unless a different form of combustion and transportation is developed. With new and emerging technologies it can seem feasible to create a device or vehicle that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide through the exhaust of the vehicle or the process of creating the fuel needed to move the vehicle. This technology sounds amazing and revolutionizing. However, it has not yet been fully developed and no promises have been made toward it either.
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