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Staving Off the Apocalypse with Jose Martinez


Calvin Harris’ Summer beat is playing in the background, a goofy guy with a gigantic pair of headphones, a half entertained, half confused look spotted around the campus of Northwestern University. That’s Jose Martinez, a chemistry Ph.D. student at day, wanna-be Flash superhero at night.  

In line with his superhero spirit, Jose is planning to save us from our impending doom, a scenario in which we’re all boiling in a climate change induced hot pot. Sick and tired of seeing how we’re spending our money working mainly on ways to fight the effects of climate change, like flood barriers in Miami, Jose wants to see some action in fixing the causes of climate change: Carbon Dioxide production (CO₂).  

“Greenhouse gasses like CO₂ work like a blanket that cover the Earth. They trap the sunlight when it goes inside the blanket and doesn’t let the heat go out of Earth’s atmosphere. This makes Earth heat up.” Targeting the cause, Jose wants less CO₂ and more chocolate for everyone [he didn’t mention this last one but I guess he does want that, because why not?].

How do we get less CO₂ you ask? Well, when you use fuel in your car, one of the byproducts of the fuel burning is CO₂, that’s where CO₂ starts its evil plan to annihilate Earth. Jose and his labmates, with the help of the Sun, are looking for efficient ways to turn the produced CO₂ to CO, which can then be transformed into fuel. This way we get to have renewable and clean energy.  

One problem with new types of energy is that our industries are not ready for them. They have to adapt and create new industries that can use, let’s say Hydrogen fuels. But the CO₂ to CO conversion gets us something we are prepared for. “The CO₂ fuel fits into the current ecosystem. When you think of Hydrogen fuels, you should make cars that use that and industries that do so, but the CO₂ fuel industries already exist.”

Knowing these about Jose, he probably IS a superhero, just one with future impacts, not immediate ones. While he seems to dislike CO₂ [and children’s beauty pageants shows] he is trying to understand the root of the problem, and turning the problem into something that could push us forward. That was me trying to make a pun with cars, get it?

#CO #scienceoutreach #chemistry #CarbonDioxide #ScienceCommunication #CO #Greenhousegasses #climatechange

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