American scientists have discovered a mechanism for converting air into fuel, potentially revolutionising the energy industry.
Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory accidentally discovered a way to convert carbon dioxide into ethanol using nanotechnology.
“We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” said Adam Rondinone, author of a study in the journal ChemistrySelect. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.”
Popular Mechanics reported that scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee were working on finding out whether chemical reactions could make the conversion.
What they found, in true beginners’ luck style, was that the first step in their research actually did the trick.
Popular Mechanics explained:
“The tech involves a new combination of copper and carbon arranged into nanospikes on a silicon surface.
The nanotechnology allows the reactions to be very precise, with very few contaminants.”
The process also reportedly works at room temperature, which would save a lot on energy costs.
The news comes as scientists report the world has reached the highest levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 4 million years.