Reducing Carbons, Producing Fuels

The effort to harvest atmospheric carbons and transform the greenhouse gases into renewable fuels has taken one step closer to practicality due to new research out of Monash University.

Through the novel combination of cheap materials to develop an energy efficient catalyst, the researchers believe they could electrochemically reduce carbon dioxide into syngas. This produced syngas would be comprised of a combination of carbon monoxide and hydrogen—the elements widely used as the starting point to produce sustainable fuels and materials.

“Our research found that a combination of cheap materials—Molybdenum Sulphide catalytic nano-particles with a conductive layer of graphene and a well-known polymer called polyethylenimine acted together to create this energy efficient catalyst. Each component in the catalyst played a specific role in the reaction and it was only when the three were combined that the energy efficiency of the process was realized,” said Jie Zhang, lead author of the study.

Research such as this has the potential to help reduce carbon dioxide levels, which in turn, could help aid in climate change relief. With carbon dioxide levels at their highest in 650,000 years and ocean acidification occurring at an increasing rate, advancements in this reach holds more practical potential than ever.

“The electrochemical reduction of CO2 into renewable fuels and materials is one of a number of methods currently being researched into reducing the impact of CO2 on an international scale. Crucial to this is finding catalysts that make this process practical, affordable and efficient. Our latest research findings have opened a new pathway to developing renewable fuels and tackling the global CO2problem,” said Doug MacFarlane, co-lead author of the study.

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