A team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory reports a technological breakthrough that could have an impact on some of the most perplexing environmental and energy issues of our day — how to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, how to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and coming up with an efficient method of storing excess energy produced by the electric grid.
The team was studying how to use nanotechnology to control chemical reactions. I their work they came across a method using a copper nanoparticle catalyst that allows them to take carbon dioxide and convert it into ethanol. They say this discovery was actually an accident since they were actually expecting to produce methanol.
Ethanol produced from food crops is widely used today as a liquid fuel for vehicles; however, many people are concerned that using crops to produce fuel has an adverse effect on the amount of food available.
According to their reports, the catalytic conversion process is an efficient enough (as high as 70 per cent), to be suitable for using excess power from the electric grid to produce ethanol as a means of storing energy.
A short video report is below.
A full report on the process has been published in an article in the journal Chemistry Select here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/slct.201601169/full