In MIT News today a wonderful article about Hybrid Copper-Gold Nanoparticles converting carbon dioxide to methane. And some may wonder why this is important. Well as we all know CO2 seems to be a bit of an issue right now. Copper has always had the wonderful property of converting COs to a hydrocarbon fuel when made into an electrode and provided with energy.
Of course the process is not a miracle and it requires the energy input to convert but the product is methane which is a nice fuel substance that can be made portable and then given the output is CO2 and relatively clean it could be recycled through the process again to make more fuel and on and on.
Where would the energy come from? It doesnt really matter so much at this stage what is important is that the issue with this conversion was always that copper as we all know turns into that green color. That patina or oxidization is what has always limited this fuel cycle from being utilized.
Well some smart folks over at MIT figured out a way to engineer copper and gold nanoparticles so that the properties of the copper were combined with the resistence of oxidation of gold to form something new.
Everything is still very small and research based and there is a pretty high cost to rolling this out into production but I cannot help thinking about how harnessing solar energy to produce methane from CO2 in the atmosphere would lock up some of the CO2 that we have released into our environment. That CO2 would then live as permenantly as possible in that cycle over and over. The initial cost of this process might be steep but the cost spread over the amount of time would be well worth the investment. The article from MIT news above is really the place to go to get more details.