Scientists have developed a method to turn carbon dioxide gas back into solid coal by using liquid metal, a real breakthrough, particularly in regard to climate change. This cost-effective method could revolutionize how we remove carbon from the atmosphere.
In order to store the carbon dioxide, the scientists have designed a liquid metal catalyst with specific surface properties that make it extremely efficient at conducting electricity while chemically activating the surface.
In previous work in this area, solid carbon would stick to the catalyst surface. In order to prevent it, the scientists started using a catalyst which is based on non-toxic gallium alloys.
The team first dissolved carbon dioxide in a beaker containing an electrolyte and then added a small amount of the liquid metal catalysts, which is then charged with electric current. When an electric current is applied, the CO2 slowly converts into solid flakes of carbon, which are naturally detached from the liquid metal surface, allowing the continuous production of carbonaceous solid.
This kind of catalyst is an excellent conductive body that reacts effectively. Because it is liquid, the carbonaceous solid does not stick to it, which tends to happen with solid catalysts.
In the actual operation, there is still more work that needs to be done, but a crucial first step has been achieved. Once the research is completed, it will allow the scientists to effectively remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere, and the carbon that is produced could find use in a wide variety of materials in things like battery electrodes, tennis rackets, golf clubs, and airplane wings.