Scientists all over the world for more than the last 10 years have been trying to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into anything useful, including fuel. Anything coming out of this study on an industrial scale will definitely change the world forever. All of this on top of the fact that, according to scientists, the world just hit its highest levels of atmospheric CO2 in 4 million years, and that these levels will never be lowered again to so-called “safe levels.” Of course, even if this data is questionable since it was launched by “state-sponsored” scientists out to get more money for their budget by riding on the so-called climate change and global warming/ozone layer nonsense, nonetheless, factories spewing tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is pollution at its worse. But now, researchers accidentally stumbled upon a process to transform wasteful carbon dioxide into a single fuel catalyst.
Researchers and scientists from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy discovered after many years of studying materials and proposed reactions of carbon dioxide that a catalyst could do the entire reaction on its own. This catalyst is a combination of carbon, copper, and nitrogen, and by embedding copper nanoparticles into nitrogen-laced carbon spikes and applying an electric current of just 1.2 volts, the catalyst converted a solution of CO2 dissolved in water into ethanol. The yield had 63 percent purity. The scientists were surprised by the accidental result because, 1) only a very modest amount of electricity was needed to yield the result, and, 2) what was expected as a less desirable chemical yield of methanol would turn out to be a high yield of a more useful chemical, ethanol. In the past, scientists using electricity to jolt CO2 to produce another chemical yield with this type of electrochemical reaction only resulted in a mix of several different products in small amounts, such as methane, ethylene, and carbon monoxide, none that are in any particular demand of any kind.
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This output of usable amounts of ethanol could spell good news for the energy sector if the discovery could be harnessed on an industrial scale. The United States and Brazil are just two countries in high demand of billions of gallons of ethanol each year that is added to gasoline. The US adds some 10 percent and Brazil adds some 25 percent ethanol into gasoline. According to Adam Rondinone, one of the researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “We’re taking carbon dioxide, a waste product of combustion, and ethanol was a surprise because it’s extremely difficult to go straight from carbon dioxide to ethanol with a single catalyst.” This isn’t the first attempt to convert CO2 pollution into something actually useful. Researchers around the world have been figuring out ways to turn it into things like methanol, formate, and hydrocarbon fuel. Research work in Iceland can turn CO2 into solid rock so we can just bury and forget about it.