August Winner! Carbon Capture Jewelry

27 Sep

So this is all we need, then? Wear one of these rings and we’re all good?

Congratulations, Chris Wilmer!

Yup. Global warming would be solved! Actually, the crystals in these rings (or pendants) may in fact help reverse global warming but only when they’re put in the smoke stacks of coal power plants. I’m tempted to explain how that would work, but I can sense that you are about to ask me that question so I’ll wait. In the meantime, I’ll point out that when you buy these rings (or pendants) you are helping materials scientists tackle global warming. Part of the money will go directly to research and development towards making better carbon capture materials.

How will they work?

Great question! These crystals have holes in them that are so tiny you can’t see them (typically the holes are about one or two nanometers wide). So they look solid, but they are really highly porous. Extremely porous. For comparison, imagine Swiss cheese. Most “porous” materials are like Swiss cheese, there are big holes and there are also large regions of cheese. Now imagine shrinking just those cheese regions until they were one atom thick. You would end up with Swiss cheese that’s actually not very much cheese… mostly just empty space enclosed in the thinnest possible cheese bubbles. That’s what these crystals are like. This makes them effective sponges for gas molecules like carbon dioxide. When you wear them as jewelry, you are soaking up carbon dioxide from the air around you. When you put them in the smoke stacks of coal power plants, you soak up the carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and capture it before it gets released into the atmosphere.

You’ve chosen a local jewelry maker to design them?

Yes, Niki Kavakonis is a very talented jewelry designer in Toronto. She has several works in museums and I’m very lucky that she agreed to take on this ambitious project.

Your win means denying Torontonians free chocolate (the runner-up project). Are you OK with that?

No! Who on Earth would be OK with that?! Perhaps the runner-up and I can team up someday and trade chocolate for carbon capture jewelry.

Where can we track the project?

People can follow my research and, once we’ve perfected the design, buy the jewelry through Niki’s site.

UPDATE: A cool video showing a visualization of Chris’ research.

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  1. Me talk awesome one day « o p e n m a t t - October 27, 2011

    […] Carbon capture jewelry. Wearable crystals that suck carbon dioxide out of the air. Fight global warming — and look stylish doing it. […]

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