Pipe Dreams: A cheap solution to greenhouse gases or just blowing smoke

Whenever a new story like this appears it’s justified to be sceptical, but there’s nothing wrong with hoping stories like this are true.  Nobody thought ceramics were the solution to high temperature superconductors until they worked.

Scientists Accidentally Discover Efficient Process to Turn CO2 Into Ethanol

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.

The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.

The tech involves a new combination of copper and carbon arranged into nanospikes on a silicon surface. The nanotechnology allows the reactions to be very precise, with very few contaminants.


  1. besomyka says

    This doesn’t seem like an answer to the problem. The carbon still ends up in the atmosphere, unless we go 100% ethanol and stop all fossil fuel excavation, and then we’re only treading water. We’d be using the molecule as a chemical battery.

    Now, if we turn it into ethanol and then *bury* it rather than burn in, then maybe we have something.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power … parties!

    Booze – from air.

    Some frat boy must’ve discovered a magic lamp – keep an eye open for his next two wishes…

    • intransitive says

      I was thinking “Now we just need a cheap way to break down ethanol…”, but yours is much better.

  3. Raucous Indignation says

    It would be much better to turn CO2 into calcium carbonate and sink it. But we are in big trouble. We are going to need every possible technology to mitigate further damage to the environment. Generating ethanol through an inorganic process would have a number of important benefits beside being carbon neutral. For example, it would free up the huge amount of farmland that goes to grow ethanol producing crops.