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December 7th, 2013 at 9:13 am

Scientists develop process to make inexpensive synthetic gas

Synthetic gas would be much better for the environment.

We are still massively dependent on fossil fuels even though they are a limited resource. But, a team of scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have figured out a way to make synthetic gas inexpensively, using carbon dioxide and carbon nanofibers.

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The first step in the process of creating synthetic gas requires the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. Many scientists have attempted this before, but previous experiments always required silver, along with an ionic liquid (like a salt solution), to trigger the reaction. The use of silver is obviously too expensive to make synthetic gas a feasible option for commercial use, so the scientists looked for another way to make it work.

The new solution is called a “co-catalyst” system. Researchers replaced the silver with carbon nanofibers, and paired those with nitrogen to convert carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide. Not only did this work beautifully, but it also surprised the scientists when they discovered that this new system worked even more efficiently than silver, “showing substantial synergistic effects.”

The scientists believe that using super-thin graphene sheets could make the process even more efficient, making synthetic gas less of a concept and more of a reality. This could even mean paying less at the pump than you are now for something that’s much better for the environment. Although this is just the first step in creating synthetic gas, it is a big one, and another leap forward in reducing our dependence on oil. It’s also certainly less smelly than powering our vehicles with poop.

Via Dvice

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