Capturing CO2 and using it, too

Happy Tuesday, everyone. For years, scientists have been documenting the contribution of greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, to climate change. There is a lot of work taking place to reduce the creation of carbon dioxide emissions or to capture them after they are produced. What if we could not only capture the CO2 but also use it as a fuel? Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found a better process for doing just that.

Illinois researchers Andrew Gewirth and Stephanie Chen designed a new copper-polymer electrode that can help recycle excess CO2 into ethylene, a useful carbon-based chemical that can be used as fuel. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer.

The process more efficiently transforms CO2 into ethylene, which can be used as fuel and in other industrial chemical applications.

  • They designed a new kind of copper-polymer electrode that fits into a reaction chamber that CO2 flows through and facilitates the reaction into a useful chemical, such as ethylene. Previous studies used other metals and coatings, but they are unstable and frequently break when the reaction occurs.

  • The new method is more stable and efficient. “We were able to convert CO2 to ethylene at a rate of up to 87%, depending on the electrolyte used. … That is up from previous reports of conversion rates of about 80% using other types of electrodes,” said graduate student Xinyi (Stephanie) Chen

  • The researchers say this device has a high potential for commercialization.

🌱 BIOFUEL: Colorado-based biofuel and renewable chemical company Gevo announced a Net-Zero Projects concept to produce energy-dense liquid hydrocarbons by using renewable energy. The company intends to build a wind-powered facility in Lake Preston, South Dakota, that would use renewable energy to process crops into renewable gasoline and jet fuel.

💻 CYBERSECURITY: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory launched a new office: the Cybersecurity Program Office. CPO employees will work on cybersecurity technologies for renewable energy technologies and distributed energy systems.

🦠 ALGAE: Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis uncovered key features in cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, that collect energy from sunlight and block the absorption of excess light. The blocking capability increases productivity from photosynthesis. The new knowledge will help with designing synthetic systems that harness energy from light.

🔋 ENERGY STORAGE: The Iowa Economic Development Authority released results from a study indicating the state’s renewable energy industries could be helped by building out battery energy storage technologies, but overcoming barriers likely would require governmental assistance, reports Energy News Network.


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