Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turning carbon dioxide into some useful form - Possible or not?

The rise of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is mostly the result of fossil fuels burning has urged science to come up with the different solutions on how to reduce the level of carbon emissions that end up in our atmosphere because these emissions are giving more impact to climate change in form of increased temperatures. One of the best solutions would definitely be if science can somehow turn carbon dioxide into some useful form before it reaches the atmosphere. Is such solution possible in reality?

There may be a way for this after all as it was demonstrated by the scientists from the university of Michigan that have figured out how to efficiently turn carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, and the most amazing part in the whole story is that they have managed this by using visible light.

The scientists used for this experiment an enzyme-modified titanium oxide to get carbon dioxide's electrons excited and able to jump to the enzyme, and once this is dome the enzyme then catalyzes the reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. A photosensitizer that binds to the titanium allows the use of visible light for the process. The enzyme is more robust than other catalysts, willing to facilitate the conversion again and again.

The direct product of this process is carbon monoxide, a chemical that can be used in other processes to produce electricity or hydrogen. Carbon monoxide has significant fuel value and readily can be converted by known catalysts into hydrocarbons or into methanol for use as a liquid fuel.

So turning carbon dioxide into some useful form is really possible, and with the more advancement in science this could perhaps in the best possible scenario be used to solve the climate change problem.


Anonymous,  May 18, 2010 at 5:01 PM  

Sounds very interesting and a great idea, but just one question... Isn't carbon monoxide rather toxic? I believe it's what causes humans to suffocate if they are exposed to this gas in a confined space for too long, and I'm pretty cars actually already do emit an amount of carbon monoxide.