If you have ever heard of the claylike mineral known as zeolite, chances are you share your home with a cat. You may also know that it comes in a powder, and that it is good at wicking out liquids and smells—ideal for concealing the minor indignities of being a feline. Desirée Plata, a civil engineering professor at MIT, uses zeolite for a different kind of molecular cleanup: Combine it with a metal catalyst—in Plata’s case, copper—add some heat, and it will trap and destroy methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
Methane is a quixotic warming agent. Unlike carbon dioxide,
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