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Fossil Fuel Combustion and Global Warming Abatement using Nanomaterials and Associated Technologies

Authors:
  • Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ebonyi State
  • Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ebonyi State Nigeria

Abstract

Though fossil fuel combustion is a very good source of energy that has kept most developed countries at the peak of industrialization, the implications of its combustion to the existence of man and other living things on this planet earth cannot be over-emphasized. Human industry is probably affecting global climate by increasing the abundance of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other associated gases controlling the temperature of the earth’s surface and atmosphere through the greenhouse effect. Human induced warming of the climate is expected to continue if nothing is done to curtail it. In recognition of this fact, this work was conducted to find out the negative effects of fossil fuel combustion to the environment and how it contributes to global warming. The work equally suggests ways on how to reduce carbon and carbon-like emissions employing nanomaterials and other associated technologies. In this study, applications of nanomaterials (such as TiO2, AgNP, CdTe, ZnO, and MoS2) and novel technologies (like carbon sequestration and fossil fuel decarburisation) were examined for global warming reduction. From the results, the study revealed that a variety of nanomaterials and renewable energy technologies are currently being employed in the industry. In particular, nanomaterials are being actively studied for enhanced solar photovoltaic systems, to avert fossil fuel combustion and ensure gradual reduction in global warming.
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics
Volume 43, (Sept. and Nov., 2017), pp375 - 388
©J.
ofNAMP
Fossil Fuel Combustion and Global Warming Abatement Using Nanomaterials and Associated
Technologies
C. N. Nwosu+', E. O. Uche', E. P. Obot', T. O. Daniel
l,
M. U. Onuu', E. M. Yohanna", C. V. Ezeh4
'Department of Physics/Geology/Geophysics, Faculty of Science,
Federal University, Ndufu-AIike, Ikwo, Nigeria.
2Department of Manufacturing/Materials, Cranfield University, England, United Kingdom
3Department of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Jos, Nigeria.
4Department of Physics, Federal University, Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria.
Abstract
Though fossil fuel combustion is a very good source of energy that has kept
most developed countries at the peak of industrialization, the implications of its
combustion to the existence of man and other living things on this planet earth
cannot be over-emphasized. Human industry is probably affecting global
climate by increasing the abundance of carbon dioxide (C02) and other
associated gases controlling the temperature of the earth's surface and
atmosphere through the greenhouse effect. Human induced warming of the
climate is expected to continue
if
nothing is done to curtail it. In recognition of
this fact, this work was conducted to find out the negative effects of fossil fuel
combustion to the environment and how it contributes to global warming. The
work equally suggests ways on how to reduce carbon and carbon-like
emissions employing nanomaterials and other associated technologies. In this
study, applications of nanomaterials (such as
no],
AgNP, CdTe, ZnO, and
MoS:z) and novel technologies (like carbon sequestration and fossil fuel
decarburisation) were examined for global warming reduction. From the
results, the study revealed that a variety of nanomaterials and renewable
energy technologies are currently being employed ill the industry. In
particular, nanomaterials are being actively studied for enhanced solar
photovoltaic systems, to avert fossil fuel combustion and ensure gradual
reduction in global warming.
Keywords:
Environment; Fossil fuel; Carbon (iv) oxide; Combustion; Global warming; Energy; Nanomaterials;
Carbon Carburisation
1. Introduction
Fuel combustion is the oxidation or burning of fuel, which results in the release of energy and gases; an oxidation
process, there is always the presence of oxygen to support the combustion. These so-called gases released during the
combustion of fuel are most times hazardous in nature, especially for a fossil-based fuel.
In 1827 Jean-Baptiste Fourier, then known for his contributions in Mathematics, speculated that human activities had
the capacity to affect the earth's c1imate[1]. This prediction is hence widely felt today with increase in hurricanes,
storms, melting-ice, typhoons etc, and might get worse with time.
Corresponding Author: Nwosu C.N., Email: Christian,nwosu@funai.edu.ng, Tel: +2348064854596 ~
,"..
.
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Arrhenius was the first in 18% to propose that eontinuou combustion offossil fuel may ultimately lead to enhanced'
global warrning[2]. He proposed a relation between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and temperature. He
found that the average surface temperature of the earth is about 15°C because of the infrared absorption capacity of
water vapour and carbon dioxide. .
Arrhenius suggested a doubling of the C02 concentration would lead to a 5°C temperature rise: He and Thomas
Chamberlin calculated that human activities could warm the earth by adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere [3]. The
atmosphere is composed of largely: Nitrogen (N2; 78.08%) and Oxygen (02; 20.95%), together with 0.93% Argon(Ar)
and trace amounts of gases such as Carbon dioxide (C02), Neon (Ne), Helium (He) and Hydrogen (H2) [4].
Proponents of fuel combustion believe that it is impossible to forestall a doubling of C02 because the
yd
World
countries depend on a major increase in energy consumption to gain a much needed ~prosperity,' while the Western
economics would collapse from a reduction by one-third or more. Thus, we must learn to live with it, and that should
not be impossible if the necessary adjustments are properly anticipated and gentle rather than late and catastrophic. Life
styles can be changed without adding more 'air conditioning [5]. Fuel combustion affects the environment during and
after combustion through increase (rise) in sea level, death of living organisms, depletion of ozone layer,exposure of
the earth to global wanning,increase in green-house gases (GHGs) and heat wave.
2.0 Fuel Combustion
This process may occur in two forms, which are complete and incomplete combustion.
Complete combustion:in this particular combustion process, fuel reacts with an oxidizing agent such as oxygen or
fluorine to yield carbon (IV) oxide, water, other hazardous gases and energy as illustrated in these equations:
CH4 + 202
-+
C02 + 2H20 + Energy (1)
N2 + 202
-+
2 02 + Energy (2)
CH2S +
6F2
-+
CF4
+ 2HF + SF6 +Energy " (3)
Fuel + Oxygen
-+
Energy + Water + Carbon dioxide (4)
Here the quantity cf available oxygen is usually more than enough to ensure full complete combustion takes place.
A simple example can be seen in the combustion of hydrogen and oxygen, which is a commonly used reaction in rocket
engines.
Incomplete combustion; the amount of available oxygen in this kind of combu tion is usually not enough to
encourage complete oxidation of the fuel, thus the reaction yields carbon (ll) oxide (CO) and water with the release of
energy. The combustion process is represented by these equations:
2CH4 + 302
-+
2CO + 4H20 + Energy
2C)Hg + 702
-+
2C + 2CO + 8H20 + 2C02 + Energy
Fuel + Oxygen
-+
Energy + Water + Carbon monoxide
(5)
(6)
(7)
Combustion is not necessarily favourable to the maximum degree of oxidation and it can be temperature dependent [6].
2.1 Global Warming
The earth is wanner today due to the proliferation of greenhouse gases (GHG's) all over the world, especially by
developed countries like United States of America, China and Russia. Thus, global warming involves the increase in
the global (mean) temperature of the earth.
A warming of the earth is produced by gases in the atmosphere that allow the short wavelength radiation of the hot sun
to pass through, but trap the longer waves reflected by the cool earth. in effect, these gases turn the earth into a
greenhouse (blanket).
The greenhouse gas that is of most public concern is C02, a product of the burning of fossil fuel and associated organic
matter; even in trace amounts it is an effective blanket.
,
•...
,
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics Volume 43, (SepC and Nov., 2017);375 - 388
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TROPOSPH ERE
GLOBAL
WARMING
FossilFuel combustion
FUEL COMBUSTION
-+
C02
-+
GLOBAL WARMIN
Figure
1:
Diagram showing the process of Global Warming
The C02 content of the atmosphere has risen by one-fifth. At the moment, it is only 0.03%, but as we continue to bum
fossil fuels at a prodigious rate, cut our rain forest, set woods and savannas alight, and over-cultivate old soils rich in
organic matter, the amount of atmospheric C02 might double in the next century.
The impact ofthis'man-made greenhouse will not be trivial hence the world should be deeply concerned about it. There
is need for proper and sustainable action backed up by law to curtail the rate of gas flaring in the Niger Delta region of
Nigeria and other regions of the world.
What would the effect be of a doubling of the C02 content of the atmosphere and when might that come about? The
latter question depends on our estimate of the amount of fossil fuel people will bum, how many forests they will cut
and so forth. Nevertheless, as a doubling is inevitable and almost certainly will happen in the.next century, let us set the
time between 2050 and 2075. What will the world be like?[5].
Currently, the earth's surface temperature is around +15°C. It is predicted to be between as little as 1.4°C and as much
as 5.8°C by 2100 [7].
The three main forms of fossil fuels are: Coal (solid fossil fuel), Petroleum (liquid fossil fuel) and Natural gas (gaseous
fossil fuel). '.
It was e"stimated by the VS energy information administration in 2007 that primary sources of energy consisted of
petroleum 36%, coal 27.4% and natural gas 23% amounting to 86.4% share of fossil fuels in primary energy
consumption in the world. The fossil fuel which contains high percentage of carbon include coal, petroleum and natural
gas[8].
Fossil fuels are widely used in the Textile Industries, Petrochemical Industries, Cement production, Power generation
and Transportation. Jet passenger planes use thousands of gallons of jet aviation fuel, a type of kerosene (Jet AI) in
their transcontinental flights [9]. It is estimated that about 70 million Nigerians now have generating sets [10]. An
average textile processing unit in India vents about 50,000 to 125,000 litres of kerosene worth 150,000 - 300,000
Rupees ~t market prices according to Bombay Textile Research Association(1l].
3.0 Other Sources of Energy
It is true that many believed that fossil fuel combustion is the only viable source of energy, but this is a wrong
assumption because there are other alternative sources of obtaining energy, which include Nuclear energy,
Hydropower, Biomass, Wind, Tidal, Geo-thennal and the well-known Solar energy.
Nuclear Energy: Nuclear power provides about 6% of the world's energy and 13-14% of the world's electricity, with
the V.S., France and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity [12].
Nigeria as at now has no active nuclear power plant; the Federal government is however still formulating policies on
how to install this technology in the country. The safety of this source of energy is still considered a high-risk venture
for the countr~, considering the safety lapses in the country's environmental laws and implen ,ptation. .••••..~"
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Hydroelectric Power: Nearly 20% of the total power of the world is met by hydroelectric power stations. In Nigeria as
at today, about 70% of electricity are supplied from Hydroelectric source; 25% Gas thennaI plants while only about 5%
come from renewable energy sources like solar.
Biomass: The products ofbiomass, are bulky and contain large amounts of water. Hence biomass can also be converted
to a variety of gaseous, liquid and solid fuels called bio-fuel [l3].
There is need for the world to invest in this source of energy as it is highly considered to be more environmentally
friendly, with low waste, when compared to nuclear sources and some others.
Wind Power: Wind power is another good source of power because of its zero waste as it has been known to be a clean
energy source. The United Kingdom (UK), Germany and United States of America (USA) are among the countries with
the highest installation of wind energy technology for power generation.
Nigeria as a country still does not have any viable wind farm, hence our over-reliance on hydropower and fossil fuel
combustion via gas thermal plants.
Total wind energy (flowing through an imaginary area A during the time t, is given as:
E
=
A. V.
t.
p.
Y2
V
2
(8)
Where, V
=
Wind velocity
p
=
air density.
The formula presented is structured in two parts; (A. V. t) is the volume of air passing through A, which is usually
considered perpendicular to the wind velocity;
(p. ~
V2)
=
kinetic energy of the moving air per unit volume.
Hence total wind power is;
P
=
Elt
=
A.
p.
Ih
V
3
[14] (9)
Geothermal Energy: The eruption of hot lava from volcanoes at the surface, at about 1200°C temperatures clearly shows
that the deep interior of the earth are very-very hot, and may be in liquid or semi-liquid state.
The already stored energy in the upper ~km portion of the earth's crust has been estimated to be of the order of 43 x 1024
Joules. Theoretically, this amount of energy would be enough to meet the energy demand of the world's population in
the coming 100,000 (I lakh) years[15]. .
Solar Energy: Modem scientific research in the utilization of solar energy commenced in 1855 when C. Guntur, an
Austrian, invented a solar boiler using mirrors. Solar energy is directly converted to electricity using solar Photovoltaic
cells [16]. Another means of obtaining solar power is through concentrated solar thermal power; where solar reflectors
(mirrors) are used to concentrate the sun's energy, which is later transformed to electric power.
The solar energy technology is still not well developed in Nigeria, as most of the projects on this technology have failed
to be performed within the minimum limit of25 - 30 years life span expected for a solar energy system. Majority of the
solar streetlights installed on Nigerian roads as at today, never last lip to a year before they fail.
3.1 Gas Flaring
Environmental pollution now persists in Nigeria especially in the oil rich regions of Nigcr-Delta. Onc of these pollution
problems is due to gas flaring.
Gas flaring is the process of burning the excess gas pumped out from the oil well, which leads to the emission of carbon
(IV) oxide, carbon (ll) oxide, hydrocarbons with one to six carbon atoms per molecule and nitrogen. Also emitted are
smoke, soot and other substances that cause acid rain[ 17].
From 1988 to 1996, Nigeria produced about Zi? trillion tonnes of natural gas; out of this, only 19.5% was actually utilized.
Thus, Nigeria ranks highest among the petroleum producing countries that flare their gas(18]. According to 2005 World
Bank report in [19], about 100 million cubic metres of gas are flared globally per year.
Figure 2: Typical Gas flare in Niger Delta region of Nigeria by Shell. Image by Israel Aloja, Environmental rights
action/friends of the earth Nigeria[20].
~. \If ~-:.. '-, .••• ~ .
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics Volume 43, (Sept. ami Nov., 2017), 375"- 388
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The estimated top ten leading contributors to world gas flaring in 2010 are (in declining order): Russia (26%), Nigeria (11%),
Iran (8%), Iraq (7%), Algeria (4%), Angola (3%), Kazakhstan (3%), Libya (3%), Saudi Arabia (3%), and Venezuela (2%)
[21
J. .
Flaring and venting of natural gas from oil and gas wells is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions[22]. The venting
of natural gas leads to release of methane (CH4) one of the most significant greenhouse gases (GHGs) [23]. If this so-called
flaring and venting practice is allowed to continue without stringent conditions and sanctions against the 'big prayers' in·the
oil industry, the future generation will pay dearly for these acts of inhumanity.
igeria holds 11,700 square km of mangrove forest; the third largest in the world and largest in Africa. Most of this
mangrove is found in the iger Delta. Though the British government implemented domestic policies to reduce gas flaring
to a minimum at home, the same criteria does not apply to British companies in Nigeria, where gas flaring is still carried out
by Shell with impunity as well as other corporations and multinationals operating here in Nigeria such as: Agip, ExxonMobil,
Texaco, Total, Elf and Chevron [24].
3.2 Ozone Layer Depletion
Ozone layer is the layer of gas in the earth atmosphere which reduces the strong effects of the sun's radiation [25].
By the late 1990's, as little as one-third of the natural concentration of ozone was being observed in spring[26].
It has been observed in the past that the protective ozone layer is getting progressively eroded due to the impact of increased
human activities [27].
Single chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) molecule can destroy about 100,000 ozone molecules as highlighted in the following
equations:
CFCh +UV ray
---+
CFCh +Cl (10)
Cl +03 ---+ CIO +02 (11)
CIO +0
---+
Cl +02 (12)
Hence free chlorine atom are then released to react with other ozone molecules:
Cl +03
---+
CIO +02 (13)
CIO +0---+ Cl +02 (14)
the process continues for thousands of times, leading to ozone depletion [28].
4.0 Environmental Effects
The quantity of carbon in the atmosphere, in the form of C02 is around 810 giga-tonnes [29]. otwithstanding, the
combustion of fossil fuel also leads to the release of gases like S02 and NO
x
which disturbs and affects the environment
negatively by destroying the ecosystem and the living inhabitants.
Table
1: A
veraze concentration of variable ases
in
the atmosphere [30]
1.7
03
0.04
India 5% 2.1
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C02 has the highest percentage of gas concentration in the atmosphere of about 370 ppm; also China emits the highest
annual amount of C02[32] followed by the United States as presented in[30] and [31] in Table
1
and Table
2
respectively.
The environmental effects offossil fuel combustion and global warming range from -
(i)Heat Wave: The impacts of continuous rise in temperature are already being felt in several parts of the world, for
instance in 2015, about23OO'::'~330 people died in India as a result of heat wave [33-34].
A model carried out
b-y
scientists at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics laboratory of the US National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration suggests that rate of occurrence of heatwave will likely double in the
20S0s
compared to
the 1980s [35]. All these are the impacts of the so-called greenhouse effect, which results majorly from continuous
fossil fuel combustion.
fJ:t
Nigeria today, the continuous rise in daily temperature makes it difficult for people to sleeplrest
thus
encourages
restiveness amongst the citizens. Average temperature for February 2016 has remained at 34°C, this has been about 1°C
rise from
2015
and 2014 records. It might be a contributing factor to the high rate of youth restiveness usually observed
in this part of the world, especially in the northern part of the country as this region is now known
for
hi~h temperature
values of up to 41°C and above [36] as shown in Figure 3.
'0
--
lE •
•....••..•
Figure 3: Maximum Temperature variations across various states in igeria, May 2014 [36]
(ii) Health implications due to oil spill poUution/fire outbreak: Oil spill mostly leads to fire outbreaks which in the
end contributes immensely towards the contamination of water sources (rivers, streams, seas and oceans) available
within the affected communities and release of carbon monoxide; which causes serious health hazards and sometimes
death. This has been the case in most parts of Niger Delta, Nigeria, where the means of livelihood of people residing in
this region were oil explorations are being carried out, has been destroyed.
10
2011 tragedy struck in Akaba community in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, when a middle-aged man inhaled
generator fumes .barely after three days of moving into his new apartment, an eyewitness told news agency of Nigeria
(NAN) that the victim was choked to death after he had inhaled the carbon monoxide (CO) from the generator he had
put on the previous night in his kitchen [37]. This shows the extent fossil fuel combustion gases (such as CO and C02)
can affect the health and life of humans and other living inhabitants of the ecosystem.
(iii) Rise
in
Sea Level: Global warming scenarios have tended to invoke images of higher global sea-levels, increased
melting of the world's ice bodies and accelerated calving rates at the marine margins of the Antarctic ice sheet followed
by ice sheet collapse [38].
Precise predictions about global warming are difficult but the best model studies indicate that due to global increase in
C02 and other greenhouse gases, the temperature of the lower atmosphere is likely to increase by
J.S
to
4.SoC
by the
year 2030. This would result in the melting of polar ice caps and rise in sea level from 20 to
16Scm
due to thermal
expansion of ocean water as well as melting of glaciers. Such an increase in the sea level will cause flooding in many
coastal areas, induce salt water intrusion into aquifers and submerge many coastal wet lands. At least
10-15%
of the
arable land and productivity of coastal areas could be lost. Trop-ical cyelone will become more intensive and their
ferocity will increase[39].
,".,.,
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(iv) Acid Rain: Environmental acidification is a man-made phenomenon. Emissions of sulphur dioxide (S02) and
oxides of nitrogen (NO
x)
are prime contributors to the envirorunental acidification as they readily dissolve
10
atmospheric moisture, forming sulphuric and nitric acids, which make the rain acidic.
Mechanism of acid rain formation: Sulphur dioxide, forms by the oxidation of Sulphur during combustion as
illustrated in the following equations:
S(s)+02(g)
---+
S02(g)
2S0z(g)+OZ(g)
---+
2S03(g)
S03(g)+HzO(1)
---+
H2S04(I}
(15)
(16)
(17)
Nitrogen oxides (collectively known as NO
x)
form in the reaction of nitrogen molecule
(N2)
in air. Rainwater converts
NOx to HNOz and HN03.
2NOz(g)+H20(l}
---+
HNOz(I}+HN03
(1)
(18)
(v) Photochemical Smog: This forms when photons of sunlight hit molecules of different kinds of pollutants in the
atmosphere. Smog arises from photochemical reactions in the lower atmosphere by the interaction of hydrocarbons and
nitrogen oxide released by exhausts of automobiles and some stationary sources [40]. It can inflame breathing passages,
decrease the lung's working capacity, cause shortness of breath, sneezing and coughing. It can cause eye and nose
irritation and it dries out the protective membrane of the nose and throat as well as interferes with the body's ability to
fight infection, increasing susceptibility to illness, which sometimes results to death.
This so-called photochemical smog has been a re-occurring decimal in several cities across the globe especially in
China and India. In 2015, Indian government voted to clamp down on second hand ('tokunbo'/over-used) cars and
motorcycles. The ban was in a bid to reduce the impact of smog arising mostly from incomplete combustion of fossil
fuel by this set of automobiles that results in the generation of more smoke and other dangerous gases into the
environment, thus affecting visibility as well as people's health [41].
In Beijing today, Chinese residents are usually seen wearing nose masks and eye googles all in a bid to avoid the
devastating effects of the photochemical smog sediments in the air. The impact of photochemical smog today remains
an area of research to be explored; as the effects seem to be overwhelming[42 - 43].
(vi) Decrease in Agricultural Output: Availability of agricultural products is affected by climate change directly
through its impacts on crop yields, crop pests and diseases, soil-fertility and water holding properties.The threats to
climate change are far more severe in developing countries, especially in Nigeria, Ethiopia and others, due to lack of
adequate awareness, finance and technology[44 - 45]. These eountries tend to be more vulnerable to rising temperature
values, which leads to severe draught being witnessed in these regions.
(vii) Aquatic Life:Oil spill or slick causes serious water pollution in oil producing areas as in the case of the Niger
Delta Region of Nigeria.
Crude oil films prevent air from passing into the inner parts of the water body thereby making breathing difficult for
aquatic organisms like fish.
Low boiling, lighter and highly toxic aromatic hydrocarbons in crude oil cause immediate death of a good number of
aquatic organisms, especially bottom dwelling shellfish [29].
(viii) Land (soil) degradation: Land use impacts occur throughout the fossil fuel cycle. Transportation of natural gas
for example, requires large pipelines to be constructed over distance of hundreds or thousands of kilometers. The
expanded use of natural gas for power generation as currently envisaged by some countries especially Nigeria [46],
could thus exacerbate land use disturbances.
Sometimes leakages occur in the pipelines via either corrosion or vandalism. These leakages normally contaminate the
area of land in contact and most times trigger fire outbreaks, which leads to release of dangerous GHGs into the
atmosphere.
The affected lands are known mostly not to support life of living things such as plants and other beneficial
microorganisms. This renders such portion of land unproductive especially for agricttltural purposes [47]. However, it
can take years and lot of funds to achieve remediation of such affected lands.
4.1 Mitigation of Fossil Fuel Combustion and Global Warming
The United Nation defines mitigation in the context of climate change, as a human intervention to reduce the sources or
enhance the sinks of GHGs. Some methods that can be employed for fossil fuel combustion and global warming
mitigation includes:
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(l)Carbon Sequestration: Carbon sequestration is a term that describes processes that remove carbon from the
atmosphere. A variety of means of artificially capturing and storing carbon, as well as of enhancing natural
sequestration processes, are being explored. The main natural process is photosynthesis by plants and single-celled
organisms (bio-sequestration) [48].
If C02 released from the burning of fossil fuels can be put in reservoirs other than the atmosphere, the rate of carbon
dioxide increase in the atmosphere can be slowed.
Perhaps the most promising ways to sequester C02 emissions is a technique being developed by a Columbia University
Scientist, Klaus Lackner, which combines C02 with magnesium from rocks. There are class of rocks that are very rich
in iron and magnesium, called serpentines. These rocks are found along the traces of ancient sub-duction zones.
The reaction;
Mg'"
+CO)
-+
MgCO) (19)
The reaction is exothennic so it does not require energy to make it happen and the end product, magnesium carbonate,
. is stable and can be put back in the earth. The concept calls for building power plants near outcrops of serpentine and
shipping in fossil fuels. The C02 would be removed from the flu gases and combined with magnesium for the
serpentine and the magnesium carbonate put back in the serpentine mine.
Since there are ample supplies of serpentine, this is a promising technique for sequestering large amounts of C02[49].
(2) Fossil fuel Decarburisation: Hydrogen can be extracted from fossil fuels and the hydrogen burned. A mixture of
steam and methane for instance can produce the following reaction;
2H20 +CH4
-+
4H2+C02 (20)
Fossil fuel decarburisation is an emerging technological approach for significant reduction of C02 emissions into the
atmosphere. The technical approach is based on the single-step decomposition (pyrolysis) of methane and other
hydrocarbons over carbon-based catalysts in an air/water free environment. This approach eliminates the need for
water-gas shift and C02 removal stages, required by conventional processes (e.g methane steam reforming), which
significantly simplifies the process. Clean carbon is produced as a valuable by-product of the process [50].
(3) Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): This is a plan to mitigate climate change by capturing C02 from large point
sources such as power plants and subsequently storing it away safely instead of releasing it into the atmosphere. The
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says CCS could contribute between 10% and 55% of the
cumulative worldwide mitigation effort over the next 90 years. The agency says CCS is the most important single
technology for C02 savings in power generation and industry.
Though it requires up to 40% more energy to run a CCS coal power plant than a regular coal plant, CCS could
potentially capture about 90% of all the carbon emitted by the plant.
Norway, which first began storing C02. has cut its emissions by almost a million tons a year, or about 3% of the
country's 1990 levels [51]. Notwithstanding, this C02 when stored can be sold to breweries for industrial-use.
(4) Carbon permit and Emission tax: An emission tax on greenhouse gas discharge requires individual emitters to
pay a fine, charge or tax for each ton of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere.
The European Union suggested trading emission permits in 2002 as one of the main regulatory instruments for
achieving Kyoto targets. This is an economic incentive that has been developed for persuading companies (such as
fossil fuel producers) to voluntarily change their behaviour. It is about creating market for externalities.
After US withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol in 200 I, the demand for emission permits has decreased.
However, the supply shows little difference. The US had expected to be a net buyer, particularly from Ukraine and
Russia. They had expected to spend 16 billion dollars on permit purchases [52].
The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement on combating climate change, which came into force on 16th
February 2005. It is an amendment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Countries that have ratified this protocol have committed to reduce their emissions of C02 and five other greenhouse
gases or engage in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases. The first phase of the Kyoto
protocol expired in 2012 [53].
(6) Afforestation: The conversion of cropland or marginal lands into forests, results in the sequestration of carbon. As
a result afforestationFigure 4 is considered one of the key climate-change mitigation strategies available to
governments by the United ations [54].
-.-,
-~"
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics Volume
43,
(Sept.
all
Nov., 2017),
375 - 388
382
Fossil Fuel Combustion ... Nwosu, Uche, Obot, Daniel, Onuu, Yohanna and Ezeb J.ofNAMP
.;
Figure 4: Afforestation in Ohaukwu axis of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State
Trees and other forest plants convert C02 carbon through photosynthesis and thereby reduce atmospheric concentration
of
COz
the principal greenhouse gas. Since more carbon is stored in forests than in other land covers (e.g agricultural
crops), there is the potential to achieve a net reduction in atmospheric
COz
concentrations through afforestation (the
conversion of non-forest land to forest). Under the terms of the Kyoto protocol, afforestation can be employed under
Annex I, by industrial countries to meet stipulated emissions reduction targets. A key factor influencing a country's
decision to pursue afforestation, is its cost effectiveness relative to the cost of other alternative C02 mitigation and
abatement strategies [55].
(6) Renewables: These are sources of energy, which come from natural sources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and
geothennal heat, which are naturally replenished, and devoid of fossil fuel combustion. The renewables exist in form of
solar energy, wind energy, hydropowcr, biomass, tidal power, bio-fuels, geothermal resources and hydrogen derived from
renewable sources.
Renewable energy replaces conventional fuels in four distinct areas; power generation, hot water/space heating, transports
fuels and rural (off-grid) energy services [56]. Hence, more utilization of renewable sources of energy leads to drastic
reduction and perhaps extinction of fossil fuel combustion, thus eradicating the influx of C02 into the atmosphere.
(7) Nanomaterials:Nanomaterials such as stanene are currently being developed to efficiently trap and dissociate
gaseous pollutants such as C02 and NOx, hence can be employed to reduce or totally eradicate the amount of C02 in the
atmosphere. However, this is still a growing area of research. In addition, nanomaterials have been fully employed in
solar photocatalysis using TiOz nanoparticIes as a catalyst. This is capable of degrading GHGs such as NOx, C02 and
other volatile organic compounds and convert them to biofuels which can be utilized for automobile and industrial power
plants use [57 - 58].
Nanoparticles such as Ti02, AgNP, CdTe, ZnO have been found to demonstrate strong efficiency in thin film solar cells
development via increase in the light harvesting capacity[59]. Also of recent, a US based firm Nanosolar claims to have
produced nanomaterial based thin film cells with 17.1 % efficiency and hoping to achieve US$lIwatt economic production
level [60].
Researchers at University of Texas, Austin are currently working towards commercialization of their work on spray-on
nano-iik of copper-indium-gallium selenidc (CIGS) nanoparticles. This technology if fully developed is capable of being
spray painted on rooftops and sides of buildings, thus eradicating the use of massive solar panels [61].
Ozone layer depletion - Nanomaterials such as SiOz, MgO and ZnO promises to replace the toxicity usually observed
in Br. nine based chemicals. Achieving this will help reduce the amount of Cf'Cs frequently released into the atmosphere,
thus
l.
xntributing
significantly towards the eradication of ozone layer depletion [62].
Reduction in aircraft fuel consumption -According to American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
[63]utilization of carbon nanotube (CNT) reinforced polymer composites in place of Aluminium for airframe (Figure 5)
manufacturing, would lead to 14.05% reduction in the aircraft structural mass, which will likely reduce fuel consumption
by 9.8%.
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics Volume 43, (Sept. and Nov., 2017),
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388
>,
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Fossil Fuel Combustion ... Nwosu, Uche, Obot, Daniel, Onuu, Yohanna and Ezeh J.ofNAMP
Figure 5: Aircraft airframe with the Turbine blades
The development of BORPower® (a mixture of Mono Crystal Diamond Powder and Nano Boron) which ensures
drastic reduction in friction and abrasion of aircraft engines, have made it possible for reduction in fuel consumption
which leads to increase in the lifespan of the engine [64].
Reduction in automobile pollution - use of nano-sized catalysts Figure 6 such as Cu nanoparticles in car engines
helps to speed-up chemical reactions which results in use of 70-90% less of the same catalyst in bulk form. This
technology drastically reduces the C02 emission from cars by converting the resultant emissions to methane which is
later reduced to chemicals like ethylene[65 - 66]. Thus reduces GHGs emissions from automobiles and power plants.
Pist-on
Figure 6: Use of nano catalyst coating in catalytic converter[65].
Nanofiller in Lubricants - the use of nanomaterials is currently applied in nano-based lubricants and coatings to
significantly reduce the coefficient of friction. The products are gradually being introduced into the market. Using
nanomaterials like WS2Figure 7, NbS2 and MOS2, companies such as ApNano Israel have been able to develop
NanoLub lubricants capable of reducing wears and friction to a great extent compared to conventional lubricants
especially at high loads[67 - 68].
-
•.
---
./ s"heriuJ, l.ometricaUv cloMd
construction
Figure 7: WS2 nanoparticle application for lubricants[69].
Nano-based lubricants are capable of achieving: reduction in noise and vibrations, reduction in engine oil consumption,
lower operating cost and improved poor efficiency in engine and gears, high pressure, impact and heat resistance [70].
5.0 Conclusion
In this paper, cases were investigated of nanomaterials (such as Ti02, AgNP, CdTe, ZnO, MOS2,Si02, and MgO) and
technologies (like carbon sequestration, carbon capture and storage, and fossil fuel carburisation) which were being
developed and applied for clean energy generation, to control and possibly avert fossil fuel combustion. Applying
nanomaterials and renewable energy technologies brings sustainable reduction in global warming by cutting-off GHGs
which emanates from combustion of fossil fuels.
Journal of the Nigerian Association of Mathematical Physics Volume 43, (Sept. a1UmOJJ.~
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Fossil Fuel Combustion ... Nwosu, Uche, Obot, Daniel, Onuu, Yohanna and Ezelt J.ofNAMP
Fossil fuel combustion as clearly seen has environmental, health and catastrophic effect to the future of this planet.
Daily activities of man continue to pose a serious threat to Earth and the future of the unborn generations. Global
warming already affects the ecosystem regularly in the form of destructive weather patterns/conditions and loss of
habitat. In future, hundreds of millions of people may be exposed to severe environmental problems in form of heat
wave, typhoon, drought, famine, extreme weather condition, loss of animal and plants species, if we do not reduce the
rate of fossil fuel combustion today.
Since industrialization cannot be avoided, the effect on plants, humans and animals should be appropriately considered
before siting any fossil fuel based industrial plant. There is also need to cut-down or totally eradicate fossil fuel
exploration and embrace renewable energy sources such as solar energy, as they are found not to pose great risk to the
environment, hence should be fully explored. Both developed and devel-oping countries should also invest more in
nanomaterials and renewable energy·technologies research, to ensure drastic reduction in global warming by averting
fossil fuel combustion.
Acknowledgements
The lead author wishes to thank Nanotechnology Researchers atCranfield University, United Kingdom: Dr
ZhaorongHuang, Dr Chris Shaw, Prof Jose Endrino, Dr Chris Samson, Dr Heather Almond, Dr Huijun Zhu, Prof David
Cullen, Dr Paul Kirby, Dr Debubrata Bhattacharyya, Dr Qi Zhang, Dr Glenn Leighton, Dr Jeff Rao, and Dr Paul Jones
for their academic guidance during his MSc research in Applied Nanotechnology and the Meteorological Centre,
'Federal University, Ndufu-Alike, lkwo (FUNAI), igeria for their suggestions and support towards the realization of
this research.
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