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Australian scientists have paved the way for carbon neutral fuel with the development of a new efficient catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from the air into synthetic natural gas in a 'clean' process using solar energy.

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Undertaken by University of Adelaide in collaboration with CSIRO, the research could make viable a process that has enormous potential to replace fossil fuels and continue to use existing carbon-based fuel technologies without increasing atmospheric CO.

The catalyst the researchers have developed effectively drives the process of combining CO with hydrogen to produce methane (the main component of the fossil fuel natural gas) and water. Currently, natural gas is one of the main fuels used for industrial activities.

"Capturing carbon from the air and utilising it for industrial processes is one strategy for controlling CO emissions and reducing the need for fossil fuels," says University of Adelaide PhD candidate Renata Lippi, first author of the research published online ahead of print in the .

"But for this to be economically viable, we need an energy efficient process that utilises CO as a carbon source.

"Research has shown that the hydrogen can be produced efficiently with solar energy. But combining the hydrogen with CO to produce methane is a safer option than using hydrogen directly as an energy source and allows the use of existing natural gas infrastructure.

"The main sticking point, however, is the catalyst -- a compound needed to drive the reaction because CO is usually a very inert or unreactive chemical."

The catalyst was synthesised using porous crystals called metal-organic frameworks which allow precise spatial control of the chemical elements.

"The catalyst discovery process involved the synthesis and screening of more than one hundred materials. With the help of CSIRO's rapid catalyst testing facility we were able to test all of them quickly allowing the discovery to be made in a much shorter period of time," said Dr Danielle Kennedy, AIM Future Science Platform Director with CSIRO. "We hope to continue collaborating with the University of Adelaide to allow renewable energy and hydrogen to be applied to chemical manufacturing by Australian industry."

With other catalysts there have been issues around poor CO conversion, unwanted carbon-monoxide production, catalyst stability, low methane production rates and high reaction temperatures.

This new catalyst efficiently produces almost pure methane from CO. Carbon-monoxide production has been minimised and stability is high under both continuous reaction for several days and after shutdown and exposure to air. Importantly, only a small amount of the catalyst is needed for high production of methane which increases economic viability. The catalyst also operates at mild temperatures and low pressures, making solar thermal energy possible.

"What we've produced is a highly active, highly selective (producing almost pure methane without side products) and stable catalyst that will run on solar energy," says project leader Professor Christian Doonan, Director of the University's Centre for Advanced Nanomaterials. "This makes carbon neutral fuel from CO a viable option."

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Materials provided by University of Adelaide .

Journal Reference :

Highly active catalyst for CO2 methanation derived from a metal organic framework template
Helsinki 1952
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Date 26 Jan - 05 Feb
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Athletes 821
Countries 32
Events 24

Highlights of the games

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Golden Soviet debut

These Games marked the debut of the USSR team, which immediately won more medals than any other nation. Their speed skaters won three of the four events, while their ice hockey team ended Canada’s domination.

Memorable champions

Pavel Kolchin of the USSR became the first non-Scandinavian to earn a medal in cross country skiing. Madeleine Berthod of Switzerland celebrated her birthday by winning the downhill by an amazing 4.7 seconds. The US dominated figure skating: Tenley Albright won the women’s title and Hayes Alan Jenkins led an all-American medal sweep on the men’s side.

Downhill king

Austrian Toni Sailer became the first Alpine skier to win three Olympic gold medals. He began by winning the giant slalom by 6.2 seconds, the largest margin of victory in Olympic history. He then won the slalom, recording the fastest time in both runs, and the downhill by 3.5 seconds.

Historic oath

The Olympic Oath was sworn by a female athlete for the first time. The honour was given to the Italian Alpine skier Giuliana Chenal-Minuzzo, bronze medallist in the downhill at the 1952 Oslo Games.

NOCs: 32 Athletes: 821 (134 women, 687 men) Events: 24 Volunteers: n/a Media: n/a

Asymbolic Roman flame

A symbolic flame is lit in Rome's ancient Capitol.

The end of open air skating

The Cortina Games were the last Games at which the figure skating competitions took place outdoors.

The Oath taken by a woman

For the first time in the history of the Games, the Olympic Oath was sworn by a female athlete- the skier Giuliana Chenal Minuzzo, bronze medallist in the downhill at the 1952 Oslo Games

The Body Position

In the ski jumping competition, the Finnish team inaugurated a new aerodynamic style, which consisted of holding the arms flat against the body rather than over the head in a diving position.

A New participant

Soviet athletes at the Winter Games.

Ceremonies

Cortina 26 January 1956. Opening Ceremony : Giuliana Chenal Minuzzo pronounces the Olympic Oath.

Official opening of the Games by: President Giovanni Gronchi

Lighting the Olympic Flame by: Guido Caroli (speed skating)

Olympic Oath by: Giuliana Chenal Minuzzo (alpine skiing)

Officials' Oath by: The officials' oath at an Olympic Winter Games was first sworn in 1972 at Sapporo.

It represents a stylized snowflake with the five rings surmounted by a star in the middle, representing the emblem of the Italian National Olympic Committee. The site of the host city appeared under this emblem. This emblem was chosen from amongst 86 models presented by 79 artists. The Milanese artist Franco Rondinelli shared first prize with the Genoan artist Bonilauri.

On the obverse, the head of an idealized woman, crowned with the five rings. The Olympic flame appears in the foreground. The inscription "VII GIOCHI OLIMPICI INVERNALI" surrounds the scene.

On the reverse, Mount Pomagagnon, one of the principal symbols of the Games, topped by a snow crystal. The inscription around reads: "CITIUS ALTIUS FORTIUS - CORTINA 1956".

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Number of torchbearers: unknown Total distance: unknown Countries crossed: Greece, Italy

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It takes up the theme of the official emblem, made up of the emblem of the Italian National Olympic Committee, as well as a view of the site of the host city. 11,000 copies were made.

Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 Published by the Italian Olympic Committee in 1957, the “VII Olympic Winter Games, Cortina d'Ampezzo, 1956: official report” is extremely rich. It consists of one bilingual Italian/English volume of almost 800 pages.

12 Mar 2014 |
Cortina d’Ampezzo 1956 Published by the Italian Olympic Committee in 1957, the “VII Olympic Winter Games, Cortina d'Ampezzo, 1956: official report” is extremely rich. It consists of one bilingual Italian/English volume of almost 800 pages.

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