A group of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) think they have found a potent new material to use to fight methane pollution: the clay in cat litter.

Source: DW Planet A/Youtube

The researchers discovered a type of clay that is often used in cat litter and they believe that it could be effective at removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. They soaked the odor-eating clay, zeolite, in a copper solution to create a compound that they say can grab methane from passing air and turn it into carbon dioxide, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. According to the EPA, over the last two centuries, methane concentrations have more than doubled in the atmosphere from human activities including intensive livestock farming.

Source: Vox/Youtube

Zeolite could also possibly be used for other things to help the climate. Its tiny pores can function as a sponge and filter, depending on how it’s made. Currently, zeolite is used to strengthen cement, improve soil, eliminate smells like in cat litter, soothe cows’ stomachs, and keep fruit from ripening, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Energy Department gave the researchers $2 million to create devices that can be attached to vents at coal mines and dairy barns, which are two of the biggest methane emitters. They hope to catch methane before it even enters the air and turns it into something a little less harmful. Although this would be helpful, it’s not a forever solution and carbon dioxide is still harmful to the environment. Taking out one greenhouse gas and turning it into another won’t solve the problem.

The researchers plan to continue to test the copper-enhanced zeolite and hope that it could be a solution to some of our problems. Methane is not the only issue that livestock farming and coal mines produce and we need to work towards a sustainable solution. Cutting out meat and animal products from our diets is the best way to fight climate change. According to the latest IPCC climate report, it’s now or never to combat climate change and we need to start thinking about a real solution.

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