Turning carbon dioxide in carbon monoxide may seem like a silly thing to do, considering carbon monoxide is a deadly poison. However, if this can be done easily and cheaply it could reduce pollution: it is used to produce fuels and plastics.
A catalyst has been made that does the conversion into carbon dioxide. It does the task rapidly. Last year the world's first commercial capture process at a coal power plant began operating. Waste gases were bubbled up through vats of amine solution. This is very expensive though.
The new process became possible when it was made to work in water. Electrocalysts have been used for two decades to take an oxygen molecule from a CO2 atom. As it now safely functions in water a whole new horizon opens up to clean up the environment.
conversion occurs at a rate of 290,000 atoms a second, an improvement of 26 times the pre-water process. Little maintenance of the system is needed. It has only been done in the lab so far. Plans are afoot to try it out at a coal power plant.
◆ Chemistry by Ty Buchanan ◆