Recently, gold, silver and copper have been found to have some properties that can help with carbon capture efforts worldwide that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
A team of chemists at the Tsinghua University in China uccessfully developed a nano-scale structure for a superior catalyst.
The model they’ve developed has a combination of silver, gold, and copper which seems to work very well for the carbon capture reaction process and helps reduce emissions.
The developing team put all their focus on electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (ECR) and studied how it works.
For their research they powered the conversion of gas through electricity resulting in carbon and oxygen atoms separation, that in turn provides other usable substances as a by-product.
Water can give out hydrogen atoms in some varieties of ECR as a donor. At the same time, carbon atoms can combine with hydrogen to generate combinations of alcohol or hydrocarbons.
Electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction
In ECR, electricity is used to convert gas into other usable substances by separating the carbon atoms of CO2 from their oxygen atoms.
A chemical substance or the right kind of catalyst is really important in ECR to speed up a chemical reaction. We can have our desired end product based on the catalyst (of different metals) we choose.
A catalyst having one kind of metal (like tin) can give out silver for carbon monoxide, formic acid, ethylene, copper for methane, or ethanol.
Dealing with the main challenge?
The biggest challenge with the technique is that sometimes ECR can be limited because of hydrogen’s tendency to form bonds.
Hydrogen atoms are supposed to join with the carbon atoms, but instead, they end up splitting and pairing up with themselves. It forms a very different chemical at the end than the one we wanted in the first place.
According to the scientists, to deal with this issue, incorporating heterostructures with two different metals is a good idea and that is the main pillar of their approach. This is because combining the properties of those two metals can efficiently produce superior outcomes than they would individually.