Tweaking copper to recycle CO2 into fuel

April 12th, 2012 - 3:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, April 12 (IANS) Copper is one of the few metals that can turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into hydrocarbon fuels with little energy and also cut down on emissions. Such a self-energizing system could vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural-gas-powered plants.

But copper has a few drawbacks. It is unstable, which can significantly slow its reaction with CO2 and produce unwanted byproducts such as carbon monoxide (CO) and formic acid, the journal Chemical Communications reports.

Now Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have come up with tiny nanoparticles of copper mixed with gold, which makes copper much more stable and viable, according to an MIT statement.

“You normally have to put a lot of energy into converting carbon dioxide into something useful,” says study co-author Hamad-Schifferli, associate professor of mechanical engineering and biological engineering at MIT.

“We demonstrated hybrid copper-gold nanoparticles are much more stable, and have the potential to lower the energy you need for the reaction,” he said.

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