New way to turn carbon dioxide into coal could rewind the emissions

first_imgA liquid metal catalyst turns carbon dioxide into solid carbon. Peter Clarke/RMIT University Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country New way to turn carbon dioxide into coal could ‘rewind the emissions clock’ Email They first made an alloy of gallium, indium, and tin that is liquid at room temperature and conducts electricity. They spiked the silvery mixture with a sprinkling of catalytically active cerium and placed it inside a glass tube, along with a splash of water that helps CO2 convert to carbon.When they inserted a wire into the liquid metal, some of the cerium atop the liquid surface reacted with oxygen from the surrounding air, forming an ultrathin layer of cerium oxide. But most of the cerium remained protected by the liquid metal. Next, the researchers piped pure CO2 into the glass tube and sent a jolt of electricity into the wire. CO2 diffused into the liquid metal where the cerium metal and electricity converted it into solid carbon, Esrafilzadeh and her colleagues report today in Nature Communications.The researchers say the exact mechanism of the reaction is not yet clear, but it likely involves five separate steps as the cerium interacts with oxygen, CO2, and water, ultimately releasing solid carbon and pure oxygen as the only byproducts. The big benefit to this new approach is that the cerium catalyst doesn’t gum up. Instead, the carbon forms small black flakes on the liquid metal surface that then slough off and move to the sides and bottom of the tube, allowing the catalytic reaction to continue.Bert Weckhuysen, a chemist at the Utrecht University in The Netherlands, calls the work “novel” and “quite nice.” He says the carbon that’s produced could find use in a wide variety of materials in things like battery electrodes, tennis rackets, golf clubs, and airplane wings.The big payoff, however, would be if this technology could be scaled up to suck CO2 out of the air and permanently store it in a solid. “While we can’t literally turn back time, turning carbon dioxide back into coal and burying it back in the ground is a bit like rewinding the emissions clock,” Daeneke says. But first, the team’s tabletop experiment, which Esrafilzadeh calls “a first step,” would have to be duplicated on a massive scale. In 2017 alone, humans released more than 32 billion tons, or gigatons, of CO2 into the air, according to the International Energy Agency. Converting that amount to solid carbon would essentially re-create the mountains of coal that miners dig out of the ground.“The gigatons magnitude makes it seem daunting,” Douglas MacFarlane, another study co-author and a chemist at Monash University in Melbourne, wrote in an email. “But if the economics become encouraging … [then it] seems very possible.”*Correction, 26 February, 7:20 p.m.: The original version of this story used “cesium” instead of “cerium.” This has been corrected throughout the story.center_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By Robert F. ServiceFeb. 26, 2019 , 11:00 AM If humans hope to limit climate change to just 2°C of warming, we’ve got a lot of work to do, scientists say: reducing emissions, planting trees, and scrubbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the skies with the latest technologies. Now, a new process can convert gaseous CO2—the product of burning fossil fuels—into solid carbon at room temperature, using only a trickle of electricity. But getting it to work on a planet-wide scale will be a formidable challenge.In recent years, researchers have discovered a handful of solid metal catalysts—compounds that speed up chemical reactions—that can convert CO2 into solid carbon. But these work only above 600°C, and providing that heat requires a lot of energy—and money. The catalysts also gum up quickly, when the carbon they produce builds up, limiting their ability to keep the reactions going.To get around this, chemists Dorna Esrafilzadeh and Torben Daeneke at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, turned to a new class of catalysts made from metal alloys that are liquid at room temperature. One such catalyst, first reported in Nature Chemistry in 2017, consists of catalytically active palladium mixed with liquid gallium. (The liquid allows the palladium to keep converting low-value hydrocarbons called alkanes into a higher value ones known as alkenes, without gumming up.) Esrafilzadeh, Daneneke, and their colleagues wanted to see whether something similar would work with CO2. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*)last_img

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