A team of researchers at George Washington University transforming CO2 emissions of a pollutant into a valuable resource all while making a potentially large net profit.
In a new study, the researchers use CO2 and solar thermal energy to produce high yields of millimeter-length carbon nanotube (CNT) wool at a cost of just $660 per ton. The market value of long CNTs is currently $100,000-$400,000 per ton.
Stuart Licht, a chemistry professor at George Washington University, said, we introduced a new class of materials called ‘Carbon Nanotube Wool. The first CNTs can directly weave into a cloth, as they are of macroscopic length and are cheap to produce. To produce the CNT wools is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
The new technology, C2CNT (CO2 to CNTs), offer an indisputable economic incentive to remove excess CO2 from the atmosphere.
The new study builds on the scientists’ previous research, when they first proposed the idea of a solar thermal electrochemical process (STEP). In which solar energy used to power an electrolytic cell. This cell capture and breaks down electrolyzes, atmospheric CO2 into carbon or carbon monoxide and oxygen.
Synthesizing CNTs from CO2 emissions has proved more challenging. Earlier research suggesting that it may impossible to produce CNTs by electrolysis using molten lithium carbonate. However, researchers demonstrated the feasibility of high-yield, low-energy electrolytic splitting of CO2 into CNTs. Which uses an alternative growth mechanism with molten lithium carbonate.
However, CNTs nanometer-sized, which is too short to wave into textiles. The result of CNTs is 100 times longer, which achieved replacing the copper or steel cathodes on the electrolytic cell with Monel, a type of nickel-copper alloy.
By making this change, the researchers produced CNTs with diameters of more than 1 micrometer and lengths of more than 1 millimeter. In any case, the wool-like CNTs are long enough to be woven into textiles for various applications.
More information: [ScienceDirect]