Scientists Convert Carbon Dioxide To Create Electricity

Posted: Aug 8 2016, 11:28am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Scientists Convert Carbon Dioxide to Create Electricity
This graphic explains novel method for capturing the greenhouse gas and converting it to a useful product -- while producing electrical energy. Credit: Cornell University
  • Electricity has been generated via the Conversion of Carbon Dioxide

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A group of scientists have generated electricity via the conversion of carbon dioxide. This is a monumental landmark in the annals of science.

We all have an impact on the earth. Leaving behind our carbon footprint is something which is virtually unavoidable. Yet we can definitely find ways of minimizing it. Our fossil fuel consumption patterns are one of the deleterious things which have got to go.

Ways of capturing carbon dioxide before it is released into the air are the really “in” thing right now. Cornell researchers demonstrated a new method of trapping greenhouse gases in order to convert them to useful products.

The biggest payoff in all this was the production of electricity as a side effect. The researchers have built an oxygen-assisted aluminum/carbon dioxide power cell which uses chemical reactivity to store the carbon dioxide and produce electricity. The paper on this mechanism got published in July.

Aluminum would be the anode and carbon dioxide and oxygen would be the cathode. The interactivity of the anode and the cathode would sequester the carbon dioxide in the form of carbon-rich mixtures that could produce electricity. Also oxalate was left behind as a waste product.

Most of the current technologies employ methods of capturing carbon in solid or liquid form. This is then released in the form of carbon dioxide via depressurization or heating.

This concentrated gas must be compressed or stored in a subterranean manner. This study though suggests an alternative shift in another direction. A carbon-capture technology that also generates electricity seems to be a dream come true.

It is something which will go on to immensely benefit humanity. The main hindrance in using such technology in electric power plants is that the fluids needed for the operation utilize 25% of the energy generated.

Thus the trade value of such a technology is limited due to this complexity in its proper utilization. Furthermore the transportation to sites for purposes of sequestration is another matter that needs to be resolved.

The practicality of the situation has to be seen to as well. What looks good on paper may not be feasible in real life. The electrochemical cell generates 13 ampere hours per gram of carbon. This occurs at a discharge potential of 1.4 volts.

The energy production is worthy of the best there is out there in the market. There is also the creation of superoxide intermediates in this cell. The future looks bright since this technology will be further streamlined and finetuned to better suit everyday usage.

The findings of this study appeared in a paper, "The O2-assisted Al/CO2 electrochemical cell: A system for CO2 capture/conversion and electric power generation," that was published on July 20 in Science Advances.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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