SOCIETY


Scientists turn CO2 ‘back into coal’ in breakthrough carbon capture experiment

Baku, March 1, AZERTAC

Scientists have managed to turn CO2 from a gas back into solid “coal”, in a breakthrough which could potentially help remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere.

The research team led by RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, developed a new technique using a liquid metal electrolysis method which efficiently converts CO2 from a gas into solid particles of carbon.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, the authors say their technology offers an alternative pathway for “safely and permanently” removing CO2 from the atmosphere. Current carbon capture techniques involve turning the gas into a liquid and injecting it underground, but its use is not widespread due to issues around economic viability, and environmental concerns about leaks from the storage site. The new technique results in solid flakes of carbon, similar to coal, which may be easier to store safely. To convert CO2, the researchers designed a liquid metal catalyst with specific surface properties that made it extremely efficient at conducting electricity while chemically activating the surface. The carbon dioxide is dissolved in a beaker filled with an electrolyte liquid along with a small amount of the liquid metal, which is then charged with an electrical current. The CO2 slowly converts into solid flakes, which are naturally detached from the liquid metal surface, allowing for continuous production.

Lead author, Dr Dorna Esrafilzadeh said the carbon produced by the technique could also be used as an electrode.

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