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Climate Change Solution? Researchers Convert Carbon Dioxide Into Fuel Using Nanoparticles, Light

Mar 13, 2017 10:49 AM EDT

Researchers have stumbled upon a possible way to alleviate climate change. A new study from Duke University has managed to convert carbon dioxide into fuel by using nanoparticles and light.

The researchers from Duke University figured out that a new chemical reaction may actually reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and develop new energy by using some of the most ordinary elements found on Earth.

They are planning on using rhodium nanoparticles that are able to harness energy from ultraviolet light in order to create the much-desired fuel.

Henry Everitt, one of the senior researchers of the team, said they discovered that reaction of light on rhodium can actually be redirected to other directions.

New Atlas says this process is also efficient as it uses light instead of heat, and can create methane without any unwanted byproducts.

For the study, the researchers created a powdery material with rhodium "nanocubes" and placed them on a reaction chamber with mixtures of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. When the rhodium was illuminated with ultraviolet light, a reaction took place that yielded methane.

The good news is that the reaction can be used to control just what kind of methane will be created, as 50-percent selectivity and 100-percent selectvitiy have different ranges of cost for creation and purification

The research is a breakthrough in the field of plasmonics, a discipline that involves using light on a variety of materials to create different reactions.

Rhodium is becoming quite a suitable candidate because despite its rarity, even small amounts of it can do a great deal in terms of converting carbon dioxide into methane. 

Methane as a fuel opens new possibility even in space travel as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has expressed his desire in using methane to fuel future SpaceX trips to Mars.

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