Argonne National Lab breakthrough turns carbon dioxide into ethanol

CLEAN TECHNICA | Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do something useful with excess carbon dioxide other than capture it, compress it, and bury it deep in the bottom of the ocean? Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory may have discovered a way to do precisely that.


According to a press release from ANL, researchers at the lab, working with partners at Northern Illinois University, have discovered a new electrocatalyst that converts carbon dioxide and water into ethanol with very high energy efficiency, high selectivity for the desired final product, and low cost. Ethanol is a particularly desirable commodity because it is an ingredient in nearly all US gasoline and is widely used as an intermediate product in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries.


“The process resulting from our catalyst would contribute to the circular carbon economy, which entails the reuse of carbon dioxide,” says Di-Jia Liu, senior chemist in Argonne’s chemical sciences and engineering division and also a scientist at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. “The process resulting from our catalyst would contribute to the circular carbon economy, which entails the reuse of carbon dioxide,” he says. The new electrochemical process converts carbon dioxide emitted from industrial processes, such as fossil fuel power plants or alcohol fermentation plants, into valuable commodities at reasonable cost.


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