CO2 into Ethanol: Future is bright with Nano-tech

Everyone in the world is frustrated by the massive hike in oil prices. And this would go even worse when our crude oil resources get exhausted. But don’t worry scientists accidentally figured out a technique to turn CO2 into Ethanol.

Petroleum fuel and Carbon dioxide or CO2 are directly linked to each other. Combustion of petroleum fuels releases CO2 which is dangerous to the environment in many ways. And this new technique tackles both the problems, additionally giving a renewable source of energy.

What’s the Research?

This research takes place in October 2016 when some scientists working at the ORNL tried to turn carbon dioxide into methane. But the reaction worked better than they expected.

Researchers said “We were taking CO2, and we were pushing the combustion reaction backwards with very high selectivity to a useful fuel. Ethanol was a surprise!”

The Champion Catalyst

Scientists manipulate nanofabrication and catalysis science for this experiment. This technique is an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide into ethanol.

Carbon Nano-spikes Catalyst
Carbon Nano-spikes Catalyst

The nanotechnology-based catalyst converts CO2 into ethanol with a yield of 63 percent (vary from 60 to 70 percent). This catalyst consists of copper nanoparticles embedded in carbon spikes. The spiky textured surface of the catalyst provides extensive reactive sites to facilitate the carbon dioxide to ethanol conversion.

What’s next?

The researchers are studying the catalyst’s properties and behaviour. The purpose is to refine their approach to improve the overall production rate.

The catalyst is inexpensive (cheap) and has good efficiency. This process holds the massive potential to be the next big thing in the future. We are just waiting for the commercialization of this process.

Concept image of artificial photosynthetic plant
Concept image of artificial photosynthetic plant

Scientists are planning to get energy/electricity directly from the sun and then utilise this energy to convert CO2 into ethanol.

Ultimately in the future, we will witness artificial plants that have artificial leaves based on this technology & they will fix more CO2 than a normal plant.

Advantages of this Technique

  • This technique requires low-cost materials and it can be operated at room temperature, in water. This makes the process easy to turn on & off.
  • This process could be scaled up for industrially and commercial purposes.
  • This process could be used to store excess electricity generated from variable power sources such as hydro, wind or solar etc. Literally, Energy/electricity is stored in the form of ethanol instead of batteries.
  • The biggest advantage is that it reduces carbon dioxide levels, proving energy and a healthy environment.
  • Ethanol produced has many industrial uses and also used in gasoline.

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Rakesh Barwar
Rakesh Barwar
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Last DNA. My passion for technology and biotechnology give rise to this awesome site. I write articles that can be easily understood by a majority of people, therefore making biotech simple and interesting!



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