CO2 is one of the biggest problems our planet currently faces. Scientists around the world are racing to find a solution that will help us deal with the excessive Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere.
CO2 is at its highest levels in millions of years. And without a solution these conditions will not change to acceptable levels anytime soon.
There are several research projects currently tackling this issue. Some have found methods to convert CO2 into methanol, or hydrocarbon fuel. But these are not very useful at this time. Other attempts have produced products that are either too expensive or not scalable.
There is even a team in Iceland trying to turn CO2 into solid rock which can then be buried. But this method has not been fully proven as yet, and these rocks would be useless to humans.
In Oak Ridge, Tennessee, at the Oak Ridge National Lab, researchers may just have found a solution that may possibly save our planet by removing the CO2 from its atmosphere in an effective, cheap, scalable way, using one catalyst.
Scientists at the famous Tennessee Laboratory said they discovered a technology that converts CO2 into Ethanol, a fuel that is in high demand that we can use in our vehicles and other applications.
This conversion can be done using common materials, and at room temperatures. The researchers combined carbon/copper nanospikes on a silicon surface, a process that was the first step in a bigger plan. But they didn’t need to continue, the breakthrough happened in step one.
This refinement produces very few contaminants or side effects, Dr. Adam Rondinone, an author of the study, explained to Popular Mechanics. It also only requires 1.2 volts of electricity, and yields over 60% of CO2 into Ethanol. These results were possible because the catalyst’s nanostructure was easy to change, this, according to the researchers.
In a press release, Dr. Rondinone said this system is effectively reversing the combustion process. Explaining that it is very difficult to produce ethanol from carbon dioxide with one catalyst.
Because of how cheap the materials involved are, and very low electricity requirements, this method can easily be scaled to meet global needs.
The team at Oak Ridge did say this is not a ready to use solution for global CO2 reduction. More development using this system will need to be made in order to have a scalable program in place.
The Automotive Industry can benefit greatly from this innovation, and we can easily say it will be a big deal for other fuel consuming industries. In the US we are currently blending over 10% of gasoline with ethanol.
The Oak Ridge lab will continue to develop this revolutionary technology, and if all goes well, we might just be able to fix Earth's CO2 problem.
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