Monday, April 20, 2009

Transforming Carbon Dioxide

Researchers at Singapore's state-funded Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology claim to have discovered a new way to transform dangerous carbon dioxide into useful methanol. They aren't the first to try this conversion, but they say their technique is faster and uses less energy than previous methods. I'm no chemist, so I don't know if any of this makes sense, but apparently they used N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) and hydrosilane. The hydrosilane's hydrogen bonds with carbon dioxide, which is then catalyzed by the NHCs to produce methanol. Because of the law of conservation of energy, of course, the amount of energy produced from the methanol won't match the amount of energy put into the reaction, but this may be a way to dispose of atmospheric carbon dioxide safely. Assuming we aren't all burned alive by the time this technology can be implemented on a mass scale. More details here.

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