Copper- Gold Nano Particles Can Convert Carbon Dioxide Into Hydrocarbon Fuels
Copper and gold nano particles can turn carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels with relatively little energy. MIT

Copper and gold nano particles can turn carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels with relatively little energy, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels with the help of copper and gold nano particles. They also claim that this technology will use very less energy compared to other technologies.

Copper and gold nano particles are created by using mixed salts that contain gold and a solution of copper salts.

The solution was heated to create nanoparticles which were later put through a series of reactions, turning the solution into a powder that was used to coat a small electrode.

To test the nanoparticles' reactivity, researchers placed the electrode in a beaker of solution and bubbled carbon dioxide into it. A small voltage was allowed through the electrode to measure the resulting current in the solution.

An analysis of the solution revealed that electrochemical reaction had turned carbon dioxide into hydrocarbon fuels.

The study also found copper-gold nanoparticles consumed less current than nanoparticles made of pure copper.

Earlier, several scientists around the world have studied copper's potential as an energy-efficient means of recycling carbon dioxide emissions in power plants.

Instead of being released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide would be circulated through a copper catalyst and turned into methane - which could then power the rest of the plant.

Such a self-energizing system could vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired and natural-gas-powered plants.

However, copper can get easily oxidised as the metal is temperamental which results it being unstable. This nature of copper can significantly slow its reaction with carbon dioxide and produce unwanted by-products such as carbon monoxide and formic acid.

Researchers at MIT have come up with a solution that further reduce the energy needed for copper to convert carbon dioxide, while also making the metal much more stable.

"You normally have to put a lot of energy into converting carbon dioxide into something useful," said Hamad-Schifferli, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a statement.

We demonstrated hybrid copper-gold nano particles are much more stable, and have the potential to lower the energy you need for the reaction".