Is Carbon Monoxide a Greenhouse Gas?
Carbon monoxide gas is made up of carbon monoxide molecules. These molecules are made of one oxygen atom and one carbon atom bonded together.
As a result, the chemical formula for carbon monoxide is ‘CO’. This means one carbon atom (C) and one oxygen atom (O) bonded together in a molecule.
The direct contribution of carbon monoxide (CO) on global warming is very low. It absorbs and radiate infrared radiation in small quantity. Thus, though carbon monoxide is sometimes referred to as a greenhouse gas, it is not considered among the primary greenhouse gases.
Carbon monoxide (CO), however, is considered a potent indirect greenhouse gas. It significantly contributes towards global warming in an indirect manner.
Carbon monoxide can be said to be a greenhouse gas in two senses.
- Firstly, carbon monoxide is a direct greenhouse gas, but not a primary greenhouse gas. It contributes directly to the greenhouse effect in a relatively small manner.
- Secondly, carbon monoxide is a strong indirect greenhouse gas. It reacts with other molecules in the air to create new greenhouse gases. In particular, it reacts with OH (hydroxyl) molecules in the earth’s atmosphere to create carbon dioxide (CO2): a key greenhouse gas.
Conclusion: We should all try and limit our carbon emissions to combat the greenhouse effect.