Nobody denies that there are tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide polluting the atmosphere and affecting our health, but scientists are trying to figure out ways of getting rid of the unwanted substance. A new idea is to transform it into ethanol, and scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory managed to put it into practice.
The scientists from the lab had been working with partners from the Northern Illinois University for finding a new electrocatalyst that converts CO2 and water into ethanol.
Long live the ethanol
Ethanol matters because it’s widely used as an intermediate product for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. The catalyst is created of atomically dispersed copper placed on a carbon-powder support. The catalyst works by breaking down carbon dioxide and also water molecules, as well as by reassembling them into ethanol through an external electrical field.
Tao Xu, who’s a nanotechnology and physical chemistry professor from Northern Illinois University, declared:
With this research, we’ve discovered a new catalytic mechanism for converting carbon dioxide and water into ethanol,
The mechanism should also provide a foundation for development of highly efficient electrocatalysts for carbon dioxide conversion to a vast array of value-added chemicals.
Turning the carbon dioxide into ethanol is also a cheap method, as we can conclude from this official statement:
We could couple the electrochemical process of CO2-to-ethanol conversion using our catalyst to the electric grid and take advantage of the low cost electricity available from renewable sources like solar and wind during off-peak hours.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless gas that has a density that’s about 60% higher than the one of dry air. CO2 consists of a carbon atom that’s covalently double bonded to other two atoms of oxygen. The substance occurs naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere as a trace gas.
The new research was recently published in the journal Nature Energy.