A new copper-based material might help chemists recycle an unwanted greenhouse gas into a desirable green fuel.
Adding ethanol reduces the energy in a gallon of gasoline. But it offers a nice tradeoff: It helps that gasoline now burn more cleanly. So making ethanol from CO would be better for the environment
Here, the group developed a brand-new catalyst, notes Di-Jia Liu. A chemist at Argonne National Laboratory, in Lemont, Ill., he headed the team that developed this catalyst. With it, the voltage needed to start the new CO-to-ethanol reaction is far less than what’s needed to kickstart similar reactions, Liu says. And although chemical reactions often make many unwanted byproducts, this new one does not. More than 90 percent of the final product is ethanol, he reports.