In 2018 , the U.S. Department of Energy ()DOE) had published findings about scientific researches seeking to convert CO2 into usable energy.
While results of studies undertaken by the DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) proved carbon dioxide (CO2) can be converted into highly energetic carbon monoxide (CO) molecules, and subsequently into natural methane gas (CH4), the inefficient and expensive technologies used had rendered the processes unacceptable.
Scientific studies of other institutions focus on the importance of capturing and removing carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere, the compound being the main driver of climate change. The need for cleaner heightens in light of the continuous advent of technological advancements and increasing global population that makes use of CO2 emitting fuel. .
It is for those reasons that BNL scientists continue to explore cost efficient and sustainable methods of converting CO2 into energy. The goal is to develop processes that can achieve something similar to photosynthesis in plants, in which atmospheric CO2 is essential to their food production process. The ultimate aim therefore, is to make use of CO2 emissions, become a key ingredient for generating energy; and at the same time, reduce if not eliminate, the harmful effects of CO2 to Earth’s climate.
Harvard Researchers Discover a Potential Catalyst for Efficient CO2 Fuel Conversion
Related studies conducted by Harvard researchers at the National Synchrotron Light Source II at the BN Laboratory, revealed that the use of single nickel atoms as catalysts for CO2 fuel conversion, yielded results with 97% maximum efficiency
Haotian Wang, a Harvard University – Rowland Fellow explained that unlike nickel metal occurring in bulk, single nickel atoms produce a different result. Rather than perform Hydrogen Evolution Reaction (HER), which dramatically reduces CO2 selectivity, a single atom nickel as catalyst, prefers to produce carbon monoxide during reaction.
In concurrence with Wang’s explanation, BNL scientist Eli Stavitski and author of the research paper, said that the reason why single atoms yield more CO instead of promoting HER, is mainly because every single atom occurring on a surface, has varying levels of energy. Whereas a bulk metal has a surface that provides a uniform energy potential.
Harvard’s Wang remarked that
“In order to advance this technology to future real applications, we are currently aiming to develop a cheap but large scale method of producing single atom catalysts, while also improving, as well as maintaining performance efficiency,”
Acknowledgment Related to this Energy Post
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