Breakthrough technology removes the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere and locks it away in solid carbon form
Carbon sequestration, the act of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and locking it away, is a growing field of research aimed at fighting global warming.
Major oil companies, like Shell, are spending billions of dollars to develop methods of capturing and storing CO2 in underground reservoirs.
But their method is impractically expensive as it requires CO2 to be compressed into liquid form at extremely high temperatures, and then injected into rock formations within Earth.
Now scientists have come up with a new, cheap method that uses liquid metals plus an electrical charge to turn CO2 back into solid coal at room temperature
An international team of researchers put the liquid metal and CO2 together in a vessel and gave it an electric charge. Soon the carbon dioxide began to transform into small flakes of coal that separated from the liquid metal and fell to the bottom of the vessel.
Their findings have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
“While we can’t literally turn back time, turning carbon dioxide back into coal and burying it back in the ground is a bit like rewinding the emissions clock,” Torben Daeneke, an Australian researcher from RMIT, said in a press release.
As a bonus, the end product (the solid coal flakes) is an extremely efficient conductor of electricity, which could be used in future vehicles.
As another bonus, a byproduct of the process is synthetic fuel, which could be used for all sorts of industrial purposes, the researchers said.
“This new discovery has the potential to change the way we think about CO2,” Forbes Magazine said.