Making CO2 our friend not our foe


The Science Show, Saturday 18 July 2015 12:32PM

Carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels is heating the plant. But what if we extracted carbon dioxide from the air, or captured it from the smokestacks of power stations? We’d have vast quantities of the gas. Chemists at Monash University in Melbourne are developing chemical reactions using sophisticated catalysts which use carbon dioxide as a reagent. In combination with water, sunlight and the catalyst magic dust, methanol is produced. This simple stable liquid can be used to power motorised transport, or run a fuel cell to produce electricity. Other work is considering dirty brown coal as a carbon source for the chemical industry rather than fuel for the production of electricity.  And nitrogen in the atmosphere is being considered a resource for the production of ammonia and ammonium compounds.