Nanoneedles: A Scientific Breakthrough Enabling Carbon Dioxide To Be Turned Back To Fuel

A group of researchers found a way to recycle carbon dioxide and turn it back into fuel through the use of "nanoneedles". 

Fossil fuels, containing high percentages of carbon, are a good source of energy when burned but at the same time, it also releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) destroying the Earth's climate by warming it.

A team of researchers from the University of Toronto including Yuanjie Pang and Min Liu discovered a way to turn carbon dioxide into a usable energy. Through the use of "nanoneedles", in which each tip are 10,000 times finer than a human hair, they were able to distillate carbon dioxide and convert it into carbon monoxide. From the converted carbon monoxide, it then can be combined with hydrogen to make a synthetic fuel.

The conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide is like "water splitting" or electrolysis process that is used to produce oxygen and hydrogen by running electricity through water using electrodes.

Pang said that they are looking for the best way to both address mounting global energy needs and help the environment at the same time. She added, "If we take CO2 from industrial flue emissions or from the atmosphere, and use it as a reagent for fuels, which provide long-term storage for green energy, we're killing two birds with one stone."

While research of the nanoengineering project from the University of Toronto is still ongoing, the team were very positive that the outcome will most likely be successful. Their work was even published in the journal Nature.

This breakthrough study was financed by several agencies and parties including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Ontario Research Fund, the CIFAR Bio-Inspired Solar Energy program, the Shanghai Municipal Natural Science Foundation,  a University of Toronto Connaught grant and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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