The major CO2 emitter is burning fossil fuels and to tackle this carbon dioxide reduction (CO2R) process has been preferred. Recently, with a new approach this method shows potential to clean water and transform greenhouse gases for sustainable fuel.

Did You Know: Fossil fuels are responsible for 78% negative changes in the earth’s atmosphere energy balance caused between 1990 and 2022.

The researchers from the UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering’s Amanchukwu Lab have devised an innovative technique. This will direct water molecules to enhance the efficiency of CO2R to achieve a clean energy circle.

Currently, carbon dioxide from fossil fuels could be extracted and used in conversion back to clean fuels using renewable electricity. If successful, this new process could present a promising approach of generating clean fuel.

Highlights of the Study

  • The new method to manipulate water molecules to make CO2R is nearly 100% efficient under mildly acidic conditions.
  • Either gold or zinc is used as catalysts in new method.
  • By engineering the electrolyte solution, water’s behavior can be controlled to produce the desired molecules instead of hydrogen gas by-products.
  • This allowed the use of cheaper, abundant metals like zinc rather than relying on precious metal catalysts.

Also See: From Fossils to Fuel: Maniamba Basin’s Permian-Triassic Strata has Petroleum Potential, says Scientists

Challenges: Clash With Other Reactions

  • CO2R is in direct opposition to the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). It merely generates hydrogen gas, instead of the actual fuel molecules.
  • Metals such as platinum and gold are excellent catalysts but are very costly and hence are not favored in industries.
  • Carbon dioxide also tends to react and form undesirable carbonate by-products.

However, the UChicago team’s new method creates a prospect for clean water and transform greenhouse gases for sustainable fuel by overcoming these challenges.

“Because of our discovery, we can now use an earth-abundant metal, zinc, because we now have a separate way to control water,” explained Professor Chibueze Amanchukwu, who leads the research lab.

There is still a long way to go with further research for making this method more efficient and feasible on an industrial scale. However, this discovery is a positive sign if one wants to fight carbon emissions and produce fuel in a green way.

Source: Controlling water, transforming greenhouse gases


Elliot is a passionate environmentalist and blogger who has dedicated his life to spreading awareness about conservation, green energy, and renewable energy. With a background in environmental science, he has a deep understanding of the issues facing our planet and is committed to educating others on how they can make a difference.

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