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Scientists have developed a new relatively low-cost method for turning atmospheric carbon dioxide into solid carbon that then be used as a synthetic fuel.
“By using liquid metals as a catalyst, we’ve shown it’s possible to turn the gas back into carbon at room temperature, in a process that’s efficient and scaleable,” [Dr. Torben Daeneke, a research scientist at RMIT University.] said. The liquid metal catalyst was developed by the researchers with specific surface properties, making it extremely efficient at conducting electricity, while chemically activating the surface.
According to the press release: “The carbon dioxide is dissolved in a beaker with an electrolyte liquid and a small amount of the liquid metal, which is then charged with an electric current. The CO2 slowly converts into solid flakes of carbon, which are naturally detached from the liquid metal surface, allowing the continuous production of carbonaceous solid.”
And, yes, the process has the potential to yield a future energy source. The carbon produced may be able to be used as an electrode.
This is excellent news, for a lot of reasons. At the same time, I always find this effort to use technology to grab and convert atmospheric carbon dioxide somewhat ironic. We already have a very efficient biological tool for doing this, called plant life, which is presently thriving worldwide because of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere. The more you plant, the more oxygen you create. And what’s more, it gives you a lot more food to eat. Why do anything else?
Hat tip reader John Vernoski.