Apr 11, 2012Science and Technology
Hybrid copper-gold nanoparticles convert CO2

Various researchers around the world have studied copper’s potential as an energy-efficient means of recycling carbon dioxide emissions in powerplants. Instead of being released into the atmosphere, carbon dioxide would be circulated through a copper catalyst and turned into methane -- which could then power the rest of the plant. Such a self-energizing system could vastly reduce greenhouse gas. Now researchers at MIT have come up with a solution that may further reduce the energy needed for copper to convert carbon dioxide, while also making the metal much more stable. The group has engineered tiny nanoparticles of copper mixed with gold, which is resistant to corrosion and oxidation. The researchers observed that just a touch of gold makes copper much more stable. In experiments, they coated electrodes with the hybrid nanoparticles and found that much less energy was needed for these engineered nanoparticles to react with carbon dioxide, compared to nanoparticles of pure copper.

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