The Latest Breakthrough of Scientists: The Continuous Conversion of Carbon Dioxide into Liquid Fuel.

Chemists recently reported a new electrocatalyst that converts carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, which has very high energy efficiency, high selectivity and low cost advantages for the desired end product.
Catalysts accelerate chemical reactions and become an important step in many industrial processes. For example, they are essential for converting heavy oil into gasoline or jet fuel. Today, catalysts involve more than 80% of manufactured products.
In cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and Northern Illinois University, a research team has discovered a new electrocatalytic converter that can convert carbon dioxide and water into ethanol, with very high energy efficiency and high selectivity , Has the advantage of low cost for the required final product.

Liu Dijia, a senior chemist in the Argonne Department of Chemical Science and Engineering and a scientist at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, said, "Our catalyst-generated process will promote a circular carbon economy, which increases the reuse rate of carbon dioxide." This process will do just that, by electrochemically converting CO2 emissions from industrial processes into valuable commodities at a reasonable cost.
The team’s catalyst is composed of atomically dispersed copper and supports carbon powder. Through an electrochemical reaction, this catalyst decomposes CO2 and water molecules, and selectively reassembles the broken molecules into ethanol under an external electric field. The electrocatalytic selectivity (or "Falada efficiency") of this process exceeds 90%, which is much higher than any other reported process. In addition, the catalyst operates stably during extended operation at low voltage.
Tao Xu, professor of physical chemistry and nanotechnology at Northern Illinois University, said: "Through this research, we have discovered a new catalytic mechanism that converts carbon dioxide and water into ethanol." This mechanism should also provide the basis for the development of high-efficiency electrocatalysts. , In order to convert carbon dioxide into a large number of value-added chemicals.
Because CO2 is a stable molecule, turning it into a different molecule is usually energy-intensive and expensive. However, "We can control the electrochemical process, CO2 uses our catalyst to convert ethanol to the grid, and use the low-cost electricity provided by renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy during off-peak hours. Because the process operates at low temperatures and high pressures , So it can be started and stopped quickly in response to the intermittent supply of renewable power.
 
The team’s research benefited from the Department of Energy’s two scientific facility offices in Argonne - Advanced Photon Source (APS) and Nanoscale Materials Center (CNM) and Argonne Laboratory Computing Resource Center (LCRC). Tao Li, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Illinois University and an assistant scientist in the Department of X-ray Sciences at Argonne, said: "Because of the high photon flux of X-ray beams in U.S. space engineering, we have captured the structural changes of catalysts during electrochemical reactions These data, along with CNM’s high-resolution electron microscopy and computational modeling using LCRC, reveal the reversible transformation from atomically dispersed copper to clusters of three copper atoms during low-voltage applications. The CO2-ethanol catalysis occurs in These tiny copper clusters. This discovery reveals how to further improve the catalyst through rational design.

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