Materials

Carbon dioxide could be converted into graphene

Carbon dioxide could be conver...
Researchers at KIT have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide into graphene, using a copper-palladium catalyst
Researchers at KIT have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide into graphene, using a copper-palladium catalyst
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Researchers at KIT have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide into graphene, using a copper-palladium catalyst
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Researchers at KIT have developed a way to convert carbon dioxide into graphene, using a copper-palladium catalyst

Carbon dioxide is kind of painted as the villain of the 21st century, and it's not enough to just reduce our emissions now – we need to remove some of what's already in the atmosphere. Now, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have developed a simple way to turn the troublesome gas into a useful resource by converting it into the "wonder" material graphene.

For all its use as a superconducting, flexible and strong material, graphene is deceptively basic – essentially, it's just a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms. Early on, it was made by peeling layers off of graphite with sticky tape, but in recent years scientists have managed to make it in a range of different ways, like laser-etching it from wood or even food, or chemically reducing it from soy beans or eucalyptus leaves.

But by far the most common method for making bulk graphene is chemical vapor deposition (CVD). In this technique a carbon source, often methane gas, is pumped into a chamber along with other gases, and a thin slice of a material acts like a catalyst and a substrate. The gas in the chamber chemically reacts with the material and forms a thin layer of graphene on the surface.

The KIT team's technique works much the same way but uses CO2 as a carbon source, giving it the potential added benefit of removing this harmful gas from the atmosphere. In this case, CO2 and hydrogen fill the chamber, and the catalyst and substrate is a wafer made of copper and palladium. The process is done at atmospheric pressure and high temperatures of up to 1,000° C (1,832° F).

"If the metal surface exhibits the correct ratio of copper and palladium, the conversion of carbon dioxide to graphene will take place directly in a simple one-step process," says Mario Ruben, lead researcher on the study.

The team managed to show that the technique works, even using it to make graphene that's several layers thick. The next step is to try to make functioning electronic components using this process.

The research was published in the journal ChemSusChem.

Source: KIT

7 comments
Simon Redford
All very interesting, but is this really about absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere as the opening sentences imply? Surely the substitution of CO2 and hydrogen rather than methane in this process is trivial compared to the need to heat the process to 1,000°C? If there is a benefit in using CO2, absorbing it from the environment seems unlikely to have any significant impact. I suspect the authors of this work on “thermo‐reduction of CO2 to graphene” would not support the implication that this is a way to reduce atmospheric CO2 so the article is misleading.
haydentech
"graphene that's several layers thick". So, ordinary graphite then?
musheen
It seems like I've been hearing about these "miracle materials" my entire life. Graphene, carbon nanotubes, aerogel, and how they're going to change the world, yada yada yada. Perhaps if we stopped wasting Dom much of "sciences" time on global warming nonsense, they'd get somewhere. Or maybe by tacking it ONTO the nonsense, it'll get some traction.
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Fast growing wood is the best way to sequester carbon. Then it should be buried in deep mines to simulate (and turn into) coal.
lynn19
Seriously, framing this as a way to remove carbon from the atmosphere is ridiculous. You could cover the entire surface of the earth with graphene and still only remove about a gigaton of CO2. Global emissions of CO2 are 10,000 gigatons per year.!! Making grapene is interesting but has nothing to do with removing C02 from the atmosphere. Not to mention that making pure CO2 probably adds at least an equal amount of Co2 to the atmosphere.
Robert Bernal
Would probably be more efficient to just use methane. The end product would then be used to make super strong cable material (graphene) that would be used to make super long bridges (provided it was also used for guylines to prevent wind buckling). Of course, all the other stuff, too, like space elevators, etc, and even for better batteries, solar panels (and brute force CO2 collectors?). What we really need, though, is "structural graphene", you know, like building blocks to space... or for really supersized wind turbines...
Tim Meisner
Yup. This is what I have been suggesting since carbon capture tech became a reality. Both technologies are fairly expensive however prices are dropping. Graphene has the ability to be used in Carbon Capture equipment, at the same time instead of wasting the carbon on building rocks or to reuse in fuel, why not use the carbon to create Graphene on the fly. When Graphene really takes off I believe the production will be a product of Carbon Capture Tech. Also, I would like to see the results of twisted Graphene when twisted to 1.618.