Scientists Trick CO2 into Helping the Environment

New technology uses carbon dioxide to create green alternative for gasoline

By on June 14th, 2012 15:28 GMT

It is a well-known fact that carbon dioxide is harmful for the environment, as many environmentalists have gone through considerable efforts to drill this into our heads.

However, there seems to be some good news: that researchers from the Freiburg Materials Research Center are working on using this compound so as to produce an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline.

If they succeed, the presently detested CO2 might be used as an energy source without having this impact in a negative way on the natural world.

Their main goal is to produce methanol by combining carbon dioxide with hydrogen. This process is known as hydrogenolysis and only takes place in high-pressure environments.

According to Science Daily, copper, zinc and zirconium dioxide are to be used as catalysts. This will enable scientists to mix-and-match carbon dioxide and hydrogen at lower temperatures than those usually needed to jump-start this chemical reaction.

The same source reports that Elias Frei, one of the scientists involved in this project, explained that “As a sustainable means of energy storage, methanol has potential in a wide range of areas. We want to use that potential, because the storage and conversion of energy are important topics for the future.”

Should things go as planned, we might be able to use methanol as a substitute for gasoline in about two years' time, thus putting less strain on the environment.

The only paradox is that, apparently, when burnt in an engine, methanol also releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so it might seem that all we'd be doing is going around in circles.

However, studies show that if the CO2 molecules are reused, only 50% of their initial number would be necessary to create the same amount of energy. Thus, slowly but surely, fewer carbon dioxide will go in and out of our engines.

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