Catalyst helps convert waste CO2 into fuel
Updated: 2016-01-07 08:27
By Zhu Lixin in Hefei and Cheng Yingqi in Beijing(China Daily)
There's a basic contradiction between modern lifestyles and environmental protection: The more we consume, the more we produce and the more damage we cause to the environment.
But what if carbon dioxide emissions could be recycled?
Since the 1990s, scientists have been working on making liquid fuel from carbon emissions. However, one of the major bottlenecks is finding the proper catalysts and how to use them.
On Thursday, scientists from the University of Science and Technology of China reported a new catalytic mechanism to create liquid fuel from carbon dioxide. The study was published by the British scientific journal Nature.
"Driven by increasing concerns about CO2-induced global warming and depletion of finite fossil fuel resources, developing renewable energy alternatives represents one of the major scientific challenges of the 21st century", said Xie Yi, a professor at the university and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"In this regard, electrochemical reduction of waste CO2 into useful energy-rich fuels is considered a potentially clean strategy for turning trash into treasure," she said.
Xie's team used cobalt, an element that usually exists in nature in chemically combined form, as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide into formate, which can be used as liquid fuel.
"Cobalt has been considered nearly non-catalytic for this reaction before, but we have demonstrated it as a very active catalyst if placed in the correct condition," said Gao Shan, one of the nine authors of the paper.
Carbon dioxide reduction - the chemical process to convert CO2 into multiple chemical products, including those that can be used as liquid fuel - has required too much energy to be feasible.
The Chinese scientists evaluated the activity of cobalt in two different forms: pure cobalt metal and co-existing domains of cobalt metal and cobalt oxide.
"Carbon dioxide reduction to formate has never before been reported for cobalt, despite the long history of the field and numerous surveys of metallic electrodes by multiple authors," said an anonymous peer review comment provided by Nature.
The new catalysis results may cause many to rethink the accepted strategies for the reaction, according to the review.
Industrial applications of the technology still face a number of challenges besides the chemical reaction itself, such as collecting CO2 and gathering the produced fuel, according to Gao.
"There are several teams around the globe devoted to related research. It is hard to tell who is doing better, since each team has its own emphasis and so many trivial things need to be explored," he said.
- Obama says US must act on gun violence, defends new gun control rules
- Over 1 million refugees have fled to Europe by sea in 2015: UN
- Turbulence injures multiple Air Canada passengers, diverts flight
- NASA releases stunning images of our planet from space station
- US-led air strikes kill IS leaders linked to Paris attacks
- DPRK senior party official Kim Yang Gon killed in car accident
- Kidnapped five-year-old reunites with her family 56 hours later
- Kung Fu Panda hones skills from master
- New cars shine at the 2016 CES trade show
- Britain's Prince George attends first day of nursery school
- Vivid dough sculptures welcome Year of the Monkey
- What's in store at CES 2016
- Li springs a surprise on coal mine visit
- Man proposes to his beloved with a $23,010 ghost castle
8 highlights about V-day Parade
Glimpses of Tibet: Plateaus, people and faith
Chinese entrepreneurs remain optimistic despite economic downfall
50th anniversary of Tibet autonomous region
Tianjin explosions: Deaths, destruction and bravery
Cinemas enjoy strong first half
Today's Top News
Shooting rampage at US social services agency leaves 14 dead
Chinese bargain hunters are changing the retail game
Chinese president arrives in Turkey for G20 summit
Islamic State claims responsibility for Paris attacks
Obama, Netanyahu at White House seek to mend US-Israel ties
China, not Canada, is top US trade partner
Tu first Chinese to win Nobel Prize in Medicine
Huntsman says Sino-US relationship needs common goals
Geared to go
The place to be