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Carbon Offset Chemistry

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Better Living Through Chemistry: Gee this carbon dioxide is heavy!

It's counter-intuitive: A gallon of gasoline weighs roughly 6 lbs. Yet, this same gallon converts into nearly 20 pounds of carbon dioxide. How?

The compound of Gasoline contains 1 Carbon and 1 Hydrogen:
Carbon (C) has an atomic mass of 12 units
Hydrogen (H) has an atomic mass of 1 unit

12 (C) + 1 (H) = 13

When burned, hydrocarbons pick up two oxygen molecules, each with a mass of 16 units.

12 (C) + 32 (O2) = 44

This means each "gallon" of gasoline, which is roughly 6 lbs of hydrocarbons, converts to 8887 grams, or 19.6  pounds, of CO2 and water vapor.

For more details, check out the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a Typical Passenger Vehicle. Too technical? try this article published in Slate,"How does Gasoline become CO2?"

How much greenhouse gas is my automobile producing?

To calculate how much you produce per mile, we use the following formula:

CO2 emmissions per mile formula image

This actual amount varies depending on the amount of ethanol in the fuel and oxygen intake during combustion, and we would convert grams into pounds. Multiplying the emmissions per mile by your miles driven will calculate the amount of CO2 produced by your vehicle. For Example:

MPG Miles driven per year Gallons of Gasoline used CO2 Produced (tons)
21 14,000 667 (2 tons of hydrocarbons) 13,062 lbs. (6.5 tons)
50 14,000 280 (0.84 ton of hydrocabons) 5,486 lbs. (2.74 tons)

Better World Insurance is offsetting your car's first ton of Greenhouse Gas emissions free! We will be happy to calculate your car's greenhouse gas emissions if you are interested in offsetting your contribution to global warming completely at the rate of $10.00 per ton. Make your purchase using our Carbon Offset Calculator.  If you have further questions about carbon offsets or the carbon offset industry, please contact Mitch Rofsky.


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