Electrolysis Can Save the Environment

By now, most know that CO2, carbon dioxide, is the world’s ultimate waste product. We produce billions of tons of it every single year, and though experts know that recycling it (through a range of processes, including CO2 Electrolysis) is possible they have been continually confronted by two major challenges:

*     It is difficult to do on a commercial scale as gear is not easy to size accordingly; and
*     It is very expensive in terms of the amount of energy needed and the chemicals required

Although some scientists are attempting to use sunlight to convert CO2 into carbohydrates, the process demands solar fuel reactors running at upwards of one thousand degrees Celsius. Not all that viable, the better alternative is CO2 Co2 Electrolysis that can be done at nearly room temperatures and which could, theoretically help with such problems as renewable energy curtailment, too costly processes, and more.

Still, it too faces those challenges of scalability and costs. For instance, the problem with overpotential has long been one that has stumped scientists eager to use Co2 Electrolysis to recycle it into viable energy stocks. The overpotential that occurs when trying to convert a CO2 molecule has been too high, since the CO2 molecule is extremely stable and breaking its bonds has historically required so much energy that recycling CO2 has been viewed as uneconomical.  Fortunately, researchers at Dioxide Materials have effectively overcome both major glitches in the process and offer gear that makes CO2 recycling commercially feasible.

On the issue of overpotential, they found that imidazolium in conjunction with silver covered electrodes was able to pass almost all of the electrons to converting the CO2 rather than splitting the water. There are also issues of corrosion and membrane failure after short periods of time. And so, they also took steps to make their membranes more durable and cost effective, too. Sizing them far beyond the typical “postage stamp”, they can also be scaled to industrial sizes. This unique approach actually makes the conversion process an economic one while simultaneously erasing the need for any precious metals and expensive ionic fluids.

Another reason their CO2 Eelectrolysis is so commercially viable is that it provides very high conductivities under alkaline conditions at 60 °C. With this system in use, there will be stability for thousands of hours,  with many systems offering more than 4k hours at higher current densities.
The limits of CO2 conversion have been erased by these discoveries. Not only has it made it possible for larger scale recycling, but it is also financially viable, ensuring that many industries can begin employing it.

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