New nano-porous silver electrocatalyst, developed by a team of researchers from University of Delaware, is a promising new discovery that can provide solution to two of the main problems of recent days- this of excess amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that of limited sustainable energy production.
The scientists were able to convert large amounts of the greenhouse gas released through burning of fossil fuels into carbon monoxide, which can then be used in the process of production of synthetic fuels.
The study that appeared in the latest issue of Nature Communications, authored by Qi Lu, and Jonathan Rosen, reveals the unique ability of the new silver-based electrocatalyst to convert much more carbon dioxide than any other catalyst used to date. The team established that the inorganic metal, besides being way cheaper than any other precious metal, is much more stable, more active and has extremely high selectivity.
The electocatalyst developed by the team is characterized by a large and curved internal surface, which makes it more active than the already known polycrystaline silver, nanoparticles and nanowires, and much more effective in converting carbon dioxide into other chemicals. In addition to this, the team also established that the new electrocatalyst outperforms all previously used catalysts in water environments.
Considering that carbon dioxide is the greenhouse gas that contributes the most to climate change, this new catalysts might offer the ever-so-needed cheap and effective solution to its removal from the atmosphere. Moreover, the product of the conversion, carbon monoxide, can even be further used to produce electricity in a clean and environmentally friendly way. The team is aware that the process will take quite a number of years before it is perfected, but they are convinced that their new discovery will encourage other teams to conduct new and exciting research in this field.
Image (c) Feng Jiao