- A team of scientists used liquid metal and a liquid electrolyte to convert the gaseous CO2 into a solid substance resembling coal.
- Compared to current methods, the new approach could prove to be a more efficient and scalable way to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it safely.
- The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the global community should cut 100 to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by mid-century avoid catastrophic global warming.
Scientists have developed a method to reconvert carbon dioxide to solid coal, a breakthrough that could change methods of removing carbon from the atmosphere and its permanent storage.
It is one of many newly developed negative emission techniques that seek to make carbon capture and storage less expensive, safer and more efficient. This method was developed by a research team led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. It uses a liquid metal electrocatalyst, containing cerium nanoparticles, a rare earth metal, to convert the greenhouse gas into a stable coal-like solid.
"Although we can not literally go back in time, converting carbon dioxide back into coal and burying it in the ground, it's a bit like rewinding the clock of emissions," he said. co-author of the study, Dr. Torben Daeneke. L & # 39; Independent. "Until now, CO2 has only been converted to a solid at extremely high temperatures, making it unsustainable on an industrial scale."
Publish their discoveries in the journal Nature Communications On February 26, the team described how the carbon dioxide was transformed into solid flakes after its dissolution and placed in a beaker filled with a liquid electrolyte and a liquid metal loaded of an electric current.
"By using liquid metals as a catalyst, we have shown that it is possible to reconvert the gas to carbon at room temperature, according to an efficient and scalable process," Daeneke said.
Improve carbon capture and storage
Instead of being buried underground, the solid carbon produced by the process could be used as a fuel source or as a raw material, as is the case in other approaches to carbon use.
"One of the benefits of the process is that carbon can hold an electrical charge, thus becoming a supercapacitor, so that it could potentially be used as a component of future vehicles," said Dorna Esrafilzadeh, associate researcher at Vice Post Chancellor at the RMIT School of Engineering. L & # 39; Independent. "The process also produces synthetic fuel as a by-product, which could also have industrial applications."
The ability to sell or use carbon after removing it from the atmosphere would help make carbon capture and storage more cost-effective and therefore more scalable. Currently, only about 1% of carbon emissions are removed from the atmosphere and stored. Making it cheaper could help the global community eliminate the 100 billion to 1 trillion tons of carbon needed to prevent catastrophic global warming by the middle of the century, a figure advanced by the Group of Experts. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations.
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