Environment Counts | Efficient low cost nano-scale catalyst directly converts CO2 to ethanol :
Many commodity products are manufactured from organic compounds sourced originally from fossil fuels. Closing the carbon cycle by utilizing CO2 and displacing fossil fuels as a source for these commodities is a key intermediate step towards a carbon-free future. Direct electrochemical conversion of CO2 to useful products has been under investigation for a few decades. Recently the Department of Energyâ€™s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed an electrochemical process that uses nanometer scale spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol.
A catalyst made of carbon, copper and nitrogen and applied voltage triggers a complicated chemical reaction that converts a solution of carbon dioxide dissolved in water into ethanol with a yield of 63 percent. The catalyst is a nanoscale structure, consisting of copper nanoparticles embedded in carbon spikes. The nano-texturing approach is low cost because it avoids the use of expensive or rare metals. It also operates at room temperature in water. It is believed the process can be scaled up for industrially relevant applications. High-Selectivity Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol using a Copper Nanoparticle/N-Doped Graphene Electrode, Yang Song, Rui Peng, Dale K. Hensley, Peter V. Bonnesen, Liangbo Liang, Zili Wu, Harry M. Meyer III, Miaofang Chi, Cheng Ma, Bobby G. Sumpter, Adam J. Rondinone, ChemistrySelect, 28 September 2016, DOI: 10.1002/slct.201601169