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Copper could be the key to converting CO2 back to fuel

Europe / Science and technology
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Electroreduction of CO 2 to multi-carbon products paves the way for high-density renewable energy storage.

Copper could be the key to converting CO2 back to fuel

Climate change has become a regular topic in the news around the world as levels of anthropogenic CO 2 continue to rise steadily. Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum and the University of Duisburg-Essen have developed a new catalyst to convert carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into fuel.

In the article, published in the journal Angewandte Chemie, the scientists explain that they have optimized existing copper catalysts to improve their selectivity and long-term stability.

A team led by Yanfang Song modified the copper catalyst with boron. Scientists have tested various ratios of copper and boron and determined the optimal composition to promote the formation of compounds in an electrochemical reaction with more than two carbon atoms. They also showed that a boron-copper catalyst can work on an industrial scale.

Their experiment included the implementation of the system in the form of a gas diffusion electrode, in which a solid catalyst catalyzes an electrochemical reaction between the liquid and gas phases. CO 2 should dissolve at the interface between these phases, and the group was able to achieve this with the help of a special binder.

In addition to this, as well as to prevent corrosion of the electrodes and maintain the stability of the system for a long period, chemists have built a so-called "sacrificial anode" of zinc into the system. Since zinc is a less noble metal than copper, it is the first to corrode and copper is retained.

“The combination of a selective and active catalytic material in the gas diffusion electrode and the addition of stabilizing zinc is an important step towards using CO 2 for the synthesis of basic chemicals,” said Wolfgang Schumann, co-author of the study in a statement to Media.

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