Scientists from Australia have developed electrochemical technique to convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into coal (storable solid carbon) at room temperature using liquid metals as catalyst. It is claimed to world's first such breakthrough that could transform approach to carbon capture and storage. Prior to this technique, CO2 was only transformed into coal at extremely high temperatures, making it industrially unviable.
How this technique works?
CO2 is mixed electrolyte liquid consisting of specially designed liquid metal catalyst with specific surface properties (efficient electricity conductor with chemically activating surface) and small amount of liquid metal, which is then charged with electrical current. CO2 slowly converts into solid flakes of carbon, which are naturally detached from liquid metal surface, allowing continuous production of carbonaceous solid.
This process is efficient and scalable. It can help in rewinding emissions clock. Carbon produced by this technique also can be used as electrode. It can be used as supercapacitor as it can also hold electrical charge and potentially be used as component in future vehicles. This process also produces synthetic fuel as by-product, which could also have industrial applications.