In Britain provincial universities often do not get the credit they deserve for research. The hallowed quadrangles of Oxford and Cambridge are traditionally thought of as the centres of excellence, mainly because the great and the good, often “studying” Politics, Philosophy and Economics move there from school and thence to the sheltered halls of the Inns of Court, Parliament nor the civil service, often stopping on the way to pick up some remuneration (that dreadful but essential stuff) from various quangos also set up by the great and the good.
For those of us that are neither great nor good we have to make do with less exalted surroundings but the contribution of those from less exalted places is far greater, when it comes to providing service to humanity. The person whose ability probably saved more lives than most is Joseph Bazalgette, who never went to university at all; he built London’s sewers, drawing on his learning as an engineer, to which profession he was articled.
Alexander Fleming studied at the Royal Polytechnic as well as his school in Kilmarnock. He discovered penicillin, with the help of his team. Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics, was awarded the Nobel Prize while he was at the University of Manchester. The most significant step in the discovery of DNA was at King’s College, London where Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin were able to produce good quality diffraction patterns and thus get meaningful information about the structure of DNA.
Of course Oxbridge produces some fine minds – Tim Berners-Lee, for example, but it is far from the repository of the nation’s best minds.
It is therefore with some hope that I learn that the University of Nottingham’s Professor Martin Schröder and Dr Sihai Yang working with Peking University, and others have found a material, named for the time being NOTT-300 which can be manufactured from simple materials which absorbs carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. CO2 and SO2 bind to NOTT-300, effectively sequestrating (or capturing) these gases. It is a porous material which has the possibility, I stress “possibility”, of being a cheap low energy way to sequestrate carbon from carbon dioxide and sulphur from sulphur dioxide.
It is early days in the research but there are great hopes that the material might well help atmosphere or at least slow down the rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide which at the last count at Mauna Loa (one of the world’s most isolated and unpolluted places) was in the week of 23rd September 2012, 390.84 ppm, compared with a year ago 388.59 ppm and 370.39 ppm 10 years ago.
Filed under: carbon emissions, climate change, global warming Tagged: | Dr Sihai Yang, Joseph Bazalgette, NOTT-300, Nottingham University, Oxford and Cambridge, present atmospheric carbon dioxide content, Professor Martin Schröder, sequestrating carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide