Scientists have used nanomaterials to turn CO2 and water into syngas, a fuel gas blend that is vital in the production of synthetic fuels and various chemicals. The process is tunable, producing flexible, sustainable results.
Syngas, or synthesis gas, is a fuel blend usually made up of carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and carbon dioxide. It is a vital precursor in the production of synthetic fuels and various chemicals. Now, a team of researchers has developed a new process for creating syngas using just water and carbon dioxide, using a tiny number of copper atoms on a gold surface. This nanomaterial supports an electrochemical reaction at room temperature.
Syngas can already be converted into small molecules, such as ethanol, or larger hydrocarbons like those found in gasoline, via thermochemistry or fermentation. However, designing a process and material that could easily control syngas composition would be a major advancement, reducing the environmental effects inherent to those industrial processes. This was the impetus for the work in this study.