The illustration shows the nanostructrue that combines copper, gold and silver to help improve the chemical reaction in carbon capture. (Provided by the researchers)
Chinese chemists have developed a minuscule structure capable of improving the chemical reaction in carbon capture that may help mitigate global warming.
Scientists from Tianjin University and the Institute of Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences built the nanostructure that combines copper, gold and silver to work as a superior catalyst.
The trimetallic structure, asymmetric in form, speeds up a chemical reaction called the electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction, a key step to draw carbon from the atmosphere and use them as a feedstock for industrial chemicals, according to the study published recently in the peer-reviewed journal Nano Research.
The reaction uses electricity to power the conversion of greenhouse gases into other usable substances by separating their carbon atoms from oxygen atoms.
The researchers altered the shape and ratio of the three metals by using the gold "nanopyramids" as "seeds" for subsequent growth, rendering a unique form of heterostructure.
By dint of such a structure, they can tune the selectivity toward different C2-based products. Production of ethanol, in particular, was maximized by using a structure with the feeding ratio involving one atom each of gold and silver combined with five copper atoms, according to the study.