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New technology makes electricity from carbon dioxide, researchers say

For years researchers have been seeking to turn carbon dioxide into electricity, and a positive update has been released this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Researchers in the Netherlands hope to create the conversion in order to both provide more/cheaper energy, as well as to reduce the environmental impact of carbon dioxide. The researchers now believe that they have found a method to make the conversion possible. By adding fluid electrolyte to carbon dioxide, electrical energy could be generated, their update reveals.

The new method would utilize carbon dioxide from electrical power plants and other smokestacks as the “raw material” for converting the CO2 into energy, Guardian Express reports. The idea is to have the combination of fluid electrolyte and carbon dioxide react to create a flow of electrons that will form an electric current. The team behind the new process estimates that it could produce about 1,570 billion kilowatts of energy annually if used to harvest carbon dioxide from power plants, residencies and businesses. The energy output is about 400 times the output of the Hoover Dam, making it a powerful tool for future energy production. Like the dam, the new method would be able to create energy without releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, thus making a smaller impact on the environment.

The team utilized a “capacitive electrochemical cell” to facilitate the process of carbon dioxide conversion. In order to convert the carbon dioxide into energy, they pumped water full of carbon dioxide through the cell, forcing ions into their respective electrodes. The separation of ions charges the cell and drives the electrical current, creating energy. Then the team pumped air-bubbled water through the cell, bringing the ions back into the center to be able to use the energy. In theory, using this technique on a larger scale scientists would create a constantly updating and moving source of carbon dioxide-based energy.

Despite the promising update, the team still has a ways to go before the method can be used to create any significant source of energy. The new concept needs to be tested thoroughly, and it must also be tested on a much larger scale if the team wishes to use the method to actually convert a significant amount of CO2 into energy. Were the team to succeed, not only would they have created a powerful new source of recycled energy, they would have also created a new method of energy production that would help to moderate the impact of global warming on the environment.