« We are trying to use current quantum computing technology to solve a practical environmental problem “said, in a statement from l’American Institute of Physics, physicist and chemist Yuhua Duan. With his colleagues, he is developing quantum calculations to help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Anyone who has ever started watching Jean-Marc Jancovici’s videos on the impact offossil fuelsfossil fuels on civilization no doubt remember the shock they felt. Many aspects that we find normal and essential in our standard of living no longer seem to be able to be ensured in a few decades from now, except by continuing to use massive amounts of coalcoalof oiloil a you gazgazwhich will lead us to the murmur over the same decades due to the global warmingglobal warming. Unfortunately, despite efforts to massively deploy the renewable energiesrenewable energies and nuclear power, it is hard to see how countries like India and China can continue to lift their people out of poverty without using coal and hydrocarbons for decades to come.
In the short term, technology will not be able to save us from hitting the wall of global warming and energy. The whole question is how violent this shock will be. Several avenues for mitigating the catastrophe to come, and perhaps obtaining a rebirth, are envisaged, although they absolutely do not exempt us from acting as much as possible now by changing our energy consumption.
Several projects exist to largely capture the carbon dioxide responsible for climate change at the output of thermal power plants in particular and even to remove it from theatmosphereatmosphere. But we still have to break through technological locks and use unboxed energy anyway for that, not to mention the fact that it will be necessary to geologically sequester at least part of the carbon dioxide and thus capture what is not going to be either.
Molecules to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
We are therefore particularly interested in the unexpected perspectives opened up by researchers from the National Energy Technology Laboratory and of theUniversity of Kentucky in the USA. These perspectives stem from an article published in AVS Quantum Science, and which…surprise surprise…deal with a applicationapplication of the quantum computersquantum computers to the chemistrychemistry!
It should be remembered that, although there is no doubt that the properties of moleculesmolecules are consequences of the famous Schrödinger equationSchrödinger equationit is quickly very difficult to solve it beyond a single molecule ofhydrogenhydrogen or a atomatom of helium which already require fairly computational approximation techniques to derive some of their chemical properties and physiquephysique.
But, as the Nobel Prize in Physics Richard Feynman had prophesied in the early 1980s, it should be possible to use the laws of quantum mechanics to build powerful computers, or at least simulators dedicated to particular problems, to deduce the chemical properties of molecules that are somewhat complex, difficult or even impossible to calculate even with conventional supercomputers. This is precisely what the members of SiQuance, the start-up from the CEA and CNRS, want to do as well, which wants to revolutionize quantum computers.
The American researchers therefore believe that it is possible to use quantum computers to flush out molecules and reactions that would be particularly effective in capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is already believed that molecules that are part of amines, organic compounds derived fromammoniaammoniaare promising because they can chemically bond readily to the carbon dioxidecarbon dioxide.
One of the researchers who is therefore developing algorithms to study the reactions of amines using existing quantum computers or in the near future, Qing Shao, explains in a press release from theAmerican Institute of Physics.«We are not happy with the current amine molecules we use. We can try to find a new molecule, but if we want to test it with conventional computing resources, it will be a very expensive calculation. Our hope is to have a fast algorithm capable of screening thousands of new molecules and structures».
In fact, the idea has been taken seriously for years now, since Total is also working on this path !