Physics of the National laboratory of Oak ridge (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ORNL) U.S. Department of energy has developed an electrochemical process that turns carbon dioxide CO2 into ethanol, that is ethyl alcohol. Find, as admitted by the official website of ORNL scientists themselves, was largely accidental.
the Team used a catalyst made of carbon, copper and nitrogen and an electric current to cause a complex chemical reaction, which is essentially reverse combustion process. It is known to release carbon dioxide, and scientists have been able to turn it back into fuel.
using nano-catalysts, which contains a lot of points for the reaction (“nanogl”), dissolved in water carbon dioxide is converted into ethanol, the yield of this substance was made in the experiment 63%. Although usually this type of electrochemical reaction leads to a mixture of several products, consisting of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon in various combinations.
- We tried to make the first step in the proposed reaction when I suddenly realize that the catalyst, the entire reaction independently, noted the study’s lead author Adam Rondinone. – At the entrance we take carbon dioxide, and the output is mostly fuel. It was a surprise, because to ethanol from CO2 directly with one of the catalyst very difficult.
the Novelty of the applied catalyst is in its structure, which is a mounted on a carbon “needle” copper nanoparticles. The researchers compared this with a 50-nanometer lightning arresters, electrochemical reactivity concentrated on the tip apex. This approach avoids the use of costly or rare metals, such as platinum, which limit the economic viability of such projects.
- Using ordinary materials, but placing in accordance with nanotechnology, we figured out how to limit side reactions and in the end to get what is really required, explained Rondine.
Scientists believe that this approach can be applied in industrial scale, in particular for storage of excess electricity from wind or solar power – using the discovery energy can be store in the form of ethanol.