Scientists by accident turn carbon dioxide into ethanol fuel
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Christian Science Monitor
Posted: October 31st, 2016
Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Department of Energy lab in Tennessee, have discovered a mechanism for converting carbon dioxide into ethanol. Their method takes advantage of nanotechnology, creating a catalyst that produces ethanol from a solution of carbon dioxide in water. We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked, said Adam Rondinone, the lead author of a new study in the journal ChemistrySelect. We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own. The discovery may change the way we think about carbon dioxide. If it could be captured and turned into a fuel, then carbon dioxide the earth-polluting byproduct of global dependence on fossil fuels could help high-energy societies work toward energy independence. Repurposing carbon dioxide could be invaluable for the environment, the researchers say. Converting it into ethanol can turn a greenhouse gas into a gasoline-like fuel source. Ethanol contains one-third less energy than gasoline but produces far fewer byproducts when burned in engines, which can limit further carbon emissions. Closing the carbon cycle by utilizing CO2 as a feedstock for currently used commodities, in order to displace a fossil feedstock, is an appropriate intermediate step towards a carbon-free future, the researchers wrote in the study.
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