The team at the the MicroNano Research Facility at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) worked with researchers from the University of Munster in Germant as well as Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, North Carolina State University and UNSW, University of Wollongong, Monash University and QUT in Australia.
The technique uses liquid gallium metal (which melts at 30ºC) to dissolve nanoparticles of the element cerium that act as a catalyst. A potential of 310mV across the liquid metal generates flakes of carbon from the CO2 in the atmosphere. This could then then be used in supercapacitors or as the anode in a cell in a conformal battery as well as tackling one of the major contributors to climate change.
“To date, CO2 has only been converted into a solid at extremely high temperatures, making it industrially unviable,” said RMIT researcher Dr Torben Daeneke. “By using liquid metals as a catalyst, we’ve shown it’s possible to turn the gas back into carbon at room temperature, in a process that’s efficient and scalable. While more research needs to be done, it’s a crucial first step to delivering solid storage of carbon.”
“A side benefit of the process is that the carbon can hold electrical charge, becoming a supercapacitor, so it could potentially be used as a component in future vehicles,” said Dr Dorna Esrafilzadeh, a Research Fellow in RMIT’s School of Engineering.