He said several small companies are looking for ways to use captured CO2, and China —  which has become the world’s largest emitter as a result of its rapid industrialization — has a strong interest in finding a way to recycle captured carbon. And while the Department of Energy says the technology is needed to help meet US goals for reducing emissions, a 2016 report from the agency found “continued improvements in cost and performance” were needed before it could go into wide use. If the technology can succeed, it would greatly reduce the carbon footprint of coal and natural gas-fired power plants, which generate about two-thirds of US electricity. This site uses cookies to assist with navigation, analyse your use of our services, and provide content from third parties. Their new study, published March 30 in the research journal Joule, concludes that current technology could convert CO2 to small, energy-dense hydrocarbons using electricity from renewable sources and chemical catalysts in an “economically compelling” fashion. Your email address is used only to let the recipient know who sent the email. According to Licht, “we are working toward changing today’s fossil fuels economy into a renewable chemicals economy, replacing the largest greenhouse gas emitters with new, inexpensive, solar CO2-free chemistries.” The following video explains Stuart Licht’s “One-Pot Synthesis of Carbon Nanofibers from CO2”. Medical Xpress covers all medical research advances and health news, Tech Xplore covers the latest engineering, electronics and technology advances, Science X Network offers the most comprehensive sci-tech news coverage on the web. Does white vinegar really neutralize airborne odors and not just mask them? Scientists have been paying more attention to that question as carbon-capture technology tries to find a foothold. ©2020 Group Nine Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Congress took a step toward boosting the industry in the recently-passed bill that funds the US government through the remainder of 2018. Neither your address nor the recipient's address will be used for any other purpose. Jeff Erikson, the institute’s general manager for the Americas, told Seeker the industry “absolutely” sees an opportunity for recycling that CO2 into more useful products. In addition to the unique energetic properties of single atoms, the CO2 conversation reaction was facilitated by the interaction of the nickel atoms with a surrounding sheet of graphene. "There are many ways to use CO," said Eli Stavitski, a scientist at Brookhaven and an author on the paper. "Nickel metal, in bulk, has rarely been selected as a promising candidate for converting CO2 to CO," said Haotian Wang, a Rowland Fellow at Harvard University and the corresponding author on the paper. A few noble metals, such as gold and platinum, can avoid HER and convert CO2 to CO; however, these metals are relatively rare and too expensive to serve as cost-efficient catalysts. "One reason is that it performs HER very well, and brings down the CO2 reduction selectivity dramatically. That comes on top of nearly $8 billion the US government has spent on carbon capture research since 2009[MS2] . Explanation of the spectrochemical series of transition metal ions. “It’s still not easy to pull together at CCS project, but this changes the economics on a lot of that,” he said. And being able to produce ethylene from CO2 could be a boost to plastic recycling, since carbon released by burning old plastic could be captured and used to produce new plastic, “reusing the carbon atoms you used the first time.”, RELATED: The World’s First Commercial Carbon Dioxide Capture Plant Goes Live, But other processes used would need to be more cost-effective than current fossil-fuel methods to be economically competitive, De Luna said: “You need to find gaps that are most vulnerable to innovation. part may be reproduced without the written permission. De Luna and his Toronto colleagues are part of a team competing for the $20 million NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize, which is boosting research into making usable products out of carbon dioxide. Science X Daily and the Weekly Email Newsletter are free features that allow you to receive your favorite sci-tech news updates in your email inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time and we'll never share your details to third parties. Another reason is because its surface can be easily poisoned by CO molecules if any are produced.". Based on the results from the studies at Harvard, NSLS-II, CFN, and additional institutions, the scientists discovered single nickel atoms catalyzed the CO2 conversion reaction with a maximal of 97 percent efficiency. Researchers like De Luna are trying to convert largely inert CO2 to hydrocarbon fuels like methane or ethane to store energy — or to industrial chemicals like alcohols and ethylene, a major component of plastics. Instead of noble metal nanoparticles, they used single atoms of nickel. Those major projects and numerous smaller ones are currently sequestering about 40 million tons of carbon a year — a sizeable amount, but still a fraction of a percent of the world’s output of greenhouse gases. In essence, this provided the scientists with an image of the nickel atoms' local structure. "Our state-of-art transmission electron microscope is a unique tool to see extremely tiny features, such as single atoms," said Sooyeon Hwang, a scientist at CFN and a co-author on the paper. Turning the planet-warming byproduct of fossil-fuel combustion into something useful could help improve the economics of that process, Phil De Luna, a materials scientist at the University of Toronto, told Seeker. So, to convert CO2 to CO in a cost-effective way, scientists used an entirely new form of catalyst. By scanning an electron probe over the sample, the scientists were able to visualize discrete nickel atoms on the graphene. "They send the electrons to higher energy states and, by mapping those energy states, we can understand the electronic configuration and the chemical state of the material. Their findings were published on Feb. 1 in Energy & Environmental Science. Get weekly and/or daily updates delivered to your inbox. To get a closer look at the individual nickel atoms within the atomically thin graphene sheet, the scientists used scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) at Brookhaven's Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Asian countries are still building coal-fired power plants to meet demand, providing opportunities there — but Western countries have largely stopped building coal plants, leaving a bigger potential market in carbon-intensive industries like steel and concrete manufacturing, Erikson added.