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Copper Foam Catalyst Developed

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 02:15PM

If we lived in a perfect world, waste products could be easily converted into something useful, but thanks to the laws of chemistry and physics, that is not how things work. Reactions the produce energy also produce waste products that are more stable than the reactants, to changing them back is a difficult process. Researchers at Brown University though have found that copper foam could be used as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide into more useful chemicals.

It has already been demonstrated that copper is the best choice of catalyst for reducing CO2 into more useful hydrocarbons, but it is not always that efficient at it. One way to improve it is to use a rough copper surface, as this creates more sites for the chemical reactions to occur. The Brown researchers investigated how well copper foam, which was only developed in the past few years, would perform, as its many pores and channels should also serve for reaction sites.

When tested the foam was much more efficient at converting CO2 into formic acid, which is used to feed microbes, than planar copper. The researchers also found that small amounts of propylene were also created, which has never been reported before with copper. It appears this was the result of characteristics of the foam structure, which could mean copper foam could be tuned to deliver certain hydrocarbons in greater amounts.

Source: Brown University

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