Here’s a good question for all you ecologists out there: what do we do with the carbon dioxide emissions after capturing them? As it frequently happens, MIT took up the challenge and came with a “golden”eff idea: a hybrid-copper-gold nanoparticle to transform CO2 into methane (CH4).
Now why is that important – coming up with methane? The answer lies in the fact that, after obtaining it from the replacement of oxygen with hydrogen, methane can successfully act up as fuel.
Copper, on the other hand, is the best choice when it comes to taking the catalyst that eats up the least amount of energy when converting carbon dioxide to methane. Great! so why can’t copper cope on its own, so to speak? Well, because copper oxidizes quickly (just think of the silver-green roofs that get patina layers all over them).
This is where gold comes into play: one can cover electrodes with these nanoparticles of copper and gold without any fear of oxidizing, even at low energies. The goal has been achieved by using as little as one third gold in the mix: by combining solutions of gold and copper nanoparticles, researchers got a red-brown solution, which acted as a basis for the extraction of the dark powder of hybrid gold-copper nanoparticles.
The only drawback is that gold is not exactly cheap, especially these days, but the investment is worth it: the coatings last longer and this solution itself is better than what has been practiced so far (storing the gas in the earth, which was risky, and converting it into carbonate, which wasn’t too efficient, especially since it used up all the oxygen).