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Newly discovered molecule has potential to offset climate change and cool the planet


January 16, 2012

A newly discovered molecule, known as a Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, holds the potential to help offset global warming by actually cooling the planet (Photo: Shutterstock)

A newly discovered molecule, known as a Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, holds the potential to help offset global warming by actually cooling the planet (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Researchers claim a newly discovered molecule found in the Earth's atmosphere holds the potential to help offset global warming by actually cooling the planet. The molecule is a Criegee biradical or Criegee intermediate, which are chemical intermediaries that are powerful oxidizers of pollutants produced by combustion, such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. They have the ability to naturally clean up the atmosphere by helping break down nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide to form sulfate and nitrate, which ultimately leads to cloud formation that could help cool the planet.

Criegee biradicals are carbonyl oxides that were first hypothesized in the 1950s by Rudolf Criegee but had not been able to be directly detected until now. Using a unique apparatus designed by Sandia Lab researchers, researchers from the University of Manchester, Bristol University and Sandia Labs were able to detect the Criegee biradical - in this case formaldehyde oxide (CH2OO) - and measure how fast it reacts.

The apparatus used the intense, tunable light from a third-generation synchrotron facility at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light Source to discern the formation and removal of different isomeric species, which are molecules that contain the same toms but arranged in different combinations.

The researchers found that Criegee biradicals react much faster than initially thought and will accelerate the formation of sulfate and nitrate from sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere. They say that these compounds will lead to aerosol formation and ultimately cloud formation, which has the potential to cool the planet.

"Our results will have a significant impact on our understanding of the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere and have wide ranging implications for pollution and climate change," said Dr Carl Percival, Reader in Atmospheric Chemistry at The University of Manchester and one of the authors of the paper. "The main source of these Criegee biradicals does not depend on sunlight and so these processes take place throughout the day and night."

"A significant ingredient required for the production of these Criegee biradicals comes from chemicals released quite naturally by plants, so natural ecosystems could be playing a significant role in off-setting warming," added Professor Dudley Shallcross, Professor in Atmospheric Chemistry at The University of Bristol.

The researcher team's paper, which is published in Science, describes a new means of producing gas-phage Criegee intermediaries, which they used to prepare enough CH2OO to allow measurements of its reactions with water, sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. It is this ability to reliably produce Criegee intermediaries that the team says will facilitate future research that could allow these molecules to play a major role in off-setting climate change.

Below is a video from Sandia Labs with Sandia combustion researchers Craig Taatjes and David Osborn discussing the research.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

won\'t these clouds full of pollutants cause acid rain all over again

Michael Kruger

Hopeful that something useful (in a non explosive way) can come from these projects.

Gordon Meredith

I wonder if these chemicals or a derivative can be used to clear the air of smog or heat inversion problems? Imagine a crop duster plane flying around LA and a path of clear air behind.


OK sci-fi fans. Imagine 20 years into the future. An \"eco-bomb\" has been theorized and built by a European organization, a clandestine division of Green Peace. This bomb, called the Criegee intermediary broadcast device is capable of being detonated over a major city and, in theory, cause a mass restructuring of the pollutants and render a clean and cooler enviornment. The only problem is that no one is willing to chance the possibility that, as a result of the release of such a great quantity of the Criegee biradicals, a power struggle would be created between the corporations that now no longer need to clean and scrub their waste and the enviornmentalists who, by now have the upper hand. It gets better, but you get the idea, huh?


That\'s a great idea! If a little bit can cool and clean the climate, just imagine what a bunch can do. Dang the global warming, soon we\'ll be back to talking about the coming Ice Age. Sometimes I wonder if those 50\'s sience fiction movies didn\'t have it right in the first place.


First we have to think what if the planet is not warming? Should we help the Planet? Or just leave her alone!!!! Who Should be the one making the Choices a handful of science majors and a politician? Or The Worlds Population? We must think!


This is the most unbelievable audacity - to think that man needs to control planetary climate. You\'d be doing better to develop something that would allow mankind to more easily adapt to the naturally repetitive and cyclic climate changes of the Planet rather than changing the Planet to unnaturally suit mankind. I also think you need to check historical climate patterns before you talk about global warming. Based on historical EVIDENCE that tracks the cycles of climate change, the Planet is entering a cold-phase as a result of the shift of the magnetic pole. I suggest your research includes The 1844 edition of The New York Dissector, Vol 2. ppg 379-383 that discusses historic changes of temperatures in Greenland relative to the shifting magnetic poles. This scientific and historically accurate document exposes the current Gore-inspired \'Global warming\' scam for what it is - a scam. PLEASE stop trying to double-guess Nature.


The discovery is very interesting, I wonder if they could test the output of the HH2 Hydrogen Clean Air Combustion System as the HH2 cleans up toxic exhaust emission inside the engine during combustion. California smog tests show reductions of Carbon Monoxide, reductions Nox up to 98%+ and several other gases are lowered or eliminated.

The HH2 system has been installed here in many locations in the USA and results are reported by clients of significant reductions in toxic exhaust emissions across the board.

The HH2 system disassociates the Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules from water in a sealed system the creates each gas completely separate from the other using only 12-14 volts from a vehicle battery connection. Amps vary from 5 to 15 amps during operation and the power draw is consistent as it works only when the engine ignition circuit is running.

To date every installation has reduced toxic exhaust emissions on ALL vehicle the HH2 system has been properly installed. Client results and names available by request to valid entities upon signing a NDA prior to release of any info.

I am curious if some of the discovered Criegee intermediaries are being created via our system. Website: www.HH2.US


Dr. Derek Zupancic

These are some of the most dangerously stupid men I have ever heard of, absolutely frightening with no understanding of the climate changes involved. They would start an ice age and do what many want, that is kill most of the population. There is no global warming, there is solar system warming as we have moved into a new area of space and all the planets in the solar system are heating up not just earth, futher it is a temporary condition. This is not the first civilization on this planet and we have to stop "GUERILLA ENGINEERING". I have seen this kind of work before, to be kind, I am underwhelmed, this is a political population reduction agenda, not a scientific agenda. Shame. Even when the science outs this garbage agenda, even when the Britts get caught falsifying data, and who is involve again, the Britts, we still see this prpaganda, why is that? I cannot prove it, but I believe someone is patting idiots on the head for provding a hard to prove path to mass murder.

Sandia: providing idiots to the absolutely corrupt, all they need is a new logo. How about a jackass, no the dems got that, hmmm...

R. Dunn


Criegee biradicals seem to increase air pollution, enlarge the ozon hole and make non watery clouds,a disaster not an improvement.


The real problem is Geo-engineering. This is not meant to control the weather; it\'s meant to cull the population with Chemicals. They are \'spraying\' in the upper atmosphere with jets, leaving Chemtrails composed of Aluminum, Barium, & Strontium which are all highly toxic to ALL life; vegetable, animal, human. Aluminum alone causes brain damage; Alzheimers is gone up radically as well as Autism. This is why this type of discovery will never be implemented.

Steve Alvarez

I hate to think that a highly-rated, credible blog like Gizmag is still pushing political climate change nonsense. It\'s not 2007 anymore, and Al already got rich and doesn\'t need any more bucks.

Todd Dunning

In that water vapor also leads to cloud formation and there was some uncertainty as the impact, positive or negative, I\'m hesitant to cheer, but really interesting discovery non the less. Here is an interesting article on cloud forcing wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_forcing.

I wonder how this would impact vegetation.

Bacchus Bacchus P

I smell a geoengineering skunk in the works. Could we not do this experiment on another planet first-perhaps one that is not inhabitated with 7+ billion people? I prefer a low carbon diet, which will come soon enough anyways given our rate of carbon fuel use.


So we\'ll just have an extremely polluted planet with an acidified oceans dead of most life but jellyfish, but it\'ll be cooler!!

For under 10% of the cost of a house it could produce it\'s own energy for 25-50 yrs with little pollution. PV panels are under $1.50/wt if well shopped and doing some of the legwork, a system grid tied for $3/wt which is cheaper than retail coal today. A 2kw windgen costing under $700 in parts, labor to make and $2/wt--$2k/kw to put in can supply an eff home for 50+ yrs. Yet the only ones that work cost effectively are from small shops called Axialflux wind generators. Why can\'t business supply them at that price? Facts are a home with a good RE resource is by far the cheapest, cleanest power we can have. And yes all the reasons you have against then have been solved for decades. And you all who use fossil fuels will pay through the a--. Think of me every time you pay another electric, NG, gasoline bill knowing others laugh all the way to ther bank. Yes I drive my EV\'s at 250-600mg equivalent. So keep working your but-t off to pay your FF masters. I think I\'ll go fishing ;^P jerryd

They will think of some way to kill people with it long before it\'s used for anything good.

Terry Penrose

Hmmm.. and it occurs NATURALLY in the atmosphere...I wonder WHY? I love the use of the words \"sulphates\" and \"Nitrates\" so loosely thrown around as if it\'s a wonderful thing. It\'s a good thing most of the world is ignorant and gullible otherwise there\'s be an uprising over stuff like this! MORE CLOUDS they say? I say that\'s INTERFERENCE in a natural process. DANGER Will Robinson... DANGER!!!


There\'s a short cut to this- turning atmospheric nitrogen into more oxygen- the BLACKGOLD SAVER NITROUS-OXYHYDROGEN Fuel Booster, Saver and Emission Cleanser! http://www.wix.com/zyberjune/blackgold-saver-nno-hho

June Yasol

This is artificial, dangerous and any chain reaction can cause sudden global cooling, but this does prove, plant more trees, protect the environment, protect what\'s there, stop deforestation.

Dawar Saify

Lots has been said about the danger of this kind of tinkering. I have to add...They appear to have developed a system to detect the effects of the compound on a limited number of molecules. They now just have to monitor the effects on the hundreds and thousands of other compounds that exist in order to properly assess the danger.

Paul Anthony


Marvin Keith

Two words: cane toads. The argument for this is a really dangerous one, it would be too easy for this to get out of hand. It could end up like the cane toads. Disastrous.

Ethan Brush
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