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Light-activated, single-ion catalyst breaks down carbon dioxide

JacksinPA

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https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181126105519.htm

Designing better catalysts for converting pollutant gas into useful products

A team of scientists has discovered a single-site, visible-light-activated catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into "building block" molecules that could be used for creating useful chemicals. The discovery opens the possibility of using sunlight to turn a greenhouse gas into hydrocarbon fuels.

The scientists used the National Synchrotron Light Source II, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science user facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, to uncover details of the efficient reaction, which used a single ion of cobalt to help lower the energy barrier for breaking down CO2. The team describes this single-site catalyst in a paper just published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
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The new system can convert the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide (CO) & oxygen. The CO can be used to make useful organic chemicals & fuels.
 

Deuce

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An efficient way to capture atmospheric CO2 and convert it into liquid fuels compatible with modern combustion engines would be pretty great.
 

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An efficient way to capture atmospheric CO2 and convert it into liquid fuels compatible with modern combustion engines would be pretty great.

Yes. A lot of possibilities. Rather than just converting the CO into fuel or plastics, I can think of converting it into something heavy & inert like asphalt so we could sequester the CO2. Simple conversion plants could be built in sunny areas like the west & SW.
 

Lovebug

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Though the science outlined in the paper is not yet in practical use, there are abundant possibilities for applications, Frenkel said. In the future, such single-site catalysts could be used in large-scale areas with abundant sunlight to break down excess CO2 in the atmosphere, similar to the way plants break down CO2 and reuse its building blocks to build sugars in the process of photosynthesis. But instead of making sugars, scientists might use the CO building blocks to generate synthetic fuels or other useful chemicals.
the future looks bright.
 

Deuce

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Yes. A lot of possibilities. Rather than just converting the CO into fuel or plastics, I can think of converting it into something heavy & inert like asphalt so we could sequester the CO2. Simple conversion plants could be built in sunny areas like the west & SW.

Converting it to fuel would be beneficial as we could still run cars and trucks, except in a carbon-neutral fashion. (or near enough to it) The transportation industry requires high energy density, it's not a negotiable point, so we're much better off using recaptured CO2 than we are digging the stuff out of the ground. The only other power source currently available with the requisite energy density is nuclear power, which obviously does not lend itself well to transportation.

Some day we might make a battery that rivals gasoline in density, rendering the whole question moot and eliminating combustion engines virtually overnight, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
 
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