A perennial problem of modern chemistry is how to convert carbon dioxide into more useful compounds. A team at Berkeley Lab, California, has now developed a copper catalyst that can directly convert carbon dioxide into multi-carbon fuels and alcohols using a much smaller amount of energy than previous efforts. Peidong Yang and colleagues have demonstrated that an electrocatalyst comprising copper nanoparticles provides the necessary environment to transform carbon dioxide into ethylene, ethanol, and propanol. The process works with a record low over-potential that is about 300 millivolts less than typical electrocatalysts, the team reports.
Carbon dioxide conversion