Researchers from the University of Tasmania are developing a chemistry process which could help tackle climate change by converting the polluting chemicals into environmentally friendly ones.

The head of the University’s School of Chemistry, Brian Yates, said that the experiments attempt to break the strong molecular bonds of pollutants such as carbon dioxide to produce less toxic compounds.

"It’s not looking at limiting the carbon emissions, which of course we’re very aware of, but taking what’s there in the atmosphere already," he said. "At the moment it’s turning it into an ester.  Esters are natural compounds that occur as flavourings and fragrances."

The research team is collaborating with chemists from California who will test the process.

Professor Yates says any practical application is still at least five years away.