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Scientists accidentally created a scalable, efficient process to convert CO2 into ethanol.

Nano-spike catalysts convert carbon dioxide directly into ethanol:


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Cool, the catalyst “essentially reverses” the combustion of ethanol, directly converting carbon dioxide into ethanol.

This can even be deployed, without any changes, to all current vehicles as well as being used as a way to better store electricity on the grid.

“We’re taking carbon dioxide, a waste product of combustion, and we’re pushing that combustion reaction backwards with very high selectivity to a useful fuel,” Rondinone said. Ethanol is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages but is also widely used as an additive to motor fuel. It’s commonly sourced from plant material.

The researchers are also enthusiastic about the industrial replicability of the setup, as the technique uses low-cost materials and can be performed in room temperature.

The development is shifting paradigms in fuel use, introducing a way of having “renewable” greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide takes up 65 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, belched out primarily by fossil fuel and industrial processes. Carbon capture is the most commonly used technology to regulate emissions by keeping it from reaching the atmosphere by turning carbon dioxide and particulate combustion residue into solid waste—a waste-to-waste process. Catalytic conversion of waste carbon dioxide presents a waste-to-fuel alternative that is truly valuable to us today.

This certainly gives “recycling” a new depth of meaning.



Good point from Reddit:

The only way this could possibly be useful is if it is used with solar panels or other forms of green energy, because the reaction requires an input of electricity to function. The article doesn't specify how energy efficient the reaction is, so I wonder how efficient this form of energy storage is compared to storing electricity directly in batteries to be used in electric cars.

Source and Reddit comments:

Good point from Reddit:

This could solve the intermittent problem with renewable sources. Take excess energy during the day and store it as ethanol to be burned at night to convert into power.

Source and 700 Reddit comments:

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