When I was a kid, I remember being really worried about acid rain. But I haven’t heard about acid rain in years. Acid rain is caused by molecules nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. Nowadays, we’re facing a new problem. The earth is warming up, and the major contributor to that is carbon dioxide. So apparently, we were able to solve this acid rain problem. But how? And can we do the same for this molecule, which looks a lot like these molecules? These are the questions that I try to answer in my research. To answer how we solved the acid rain problem, we used a catalyst. What’s a catalyst? In essence, it’s a substance that makes stuff chemically happen that otherwise wouldn’t. so what if I told you that we can already solve the carbon dioxide problem using catalysts? It’s just that right now, it’s cheaper to emit the carbon dioxide into the air than it is do actually do something with it. Policy makes and goverment have a lot that they can do here. But we can also design better catalysts that make more valuable products out of CO2 in a cheaper way. To make better catalysts, we need to understand exactly how they work. And to do that, I have special tools like particle acceleratros, synchrotrons.by doing experiments at synchrotrons I can make little nanomovies of how the catalysts exactly work, and use that information to design better catalysts. With these better catalysts, hopefully we can solve big challenges that we face, like man-made climate change.

Utrecht University

We haven’t heard about acid rain in years. Apparently, we were able to solve that problem. But how? And can we do the same for CO2, that looks a lot like the molecules causing acid rain? Charlotte is trying to solve this problem with her research.

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