Silvia Vignolini

  • Reader, Department of Chemistry - University of Cambridge

Research interests

I seek to understand the impacts of Cellulose Nanocrystals as agents in Climate Engineering. Naturally present aerosols produce a cooling effect, by reflecting sunlight and by promoting the formation of clouds through cloud condensation nuclei. Injection of aerosol particles has previously been proposed for climate engineering focusing on two distinct mechanisms:

  1. injections of particles into the stratosphere to mimic the impact of large volcanic events (Solar Radiation Management (SRM))
  2. injections of aerosols into remote regions of the atmosphere, in the ocean basins, to promote cloud formation (Marine Cloud Brightening).

We have preliminary evidence that nanocrystals formed from cellulose can act in both mechanisms (SRM and MCB). Cellulose Nano Crystals (CNCs) have many benefits over other suggested materials for climate engineering: they are a largely commercially available, cheap and known substance; they are organic and non-harmful to the environment. However, political issues surrounding such geoengineering will need to be addressed and researched.

  • Can CNC structures be optimised for this purpose?
  • What are the impacts, if any, of CNCs on ozone in the stratosphere?
  • Can we model how CNCs would behave if injected in the atmosphere?
  • Where would injections of CNC have most effect?
  • Can the CNC manufacturing process be scaled up?