As climate crisis worsens, reducing carbon dioxide emissions becomes the world’s primary task. Researchers at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia, have developed a new method to instantly convert carbon dioxide into solid carbon that can be stored indefinitely or converted into useable materials. The technology works by bubbling carbon dioxide through a liquid metal tube and is designed for easy integration into emission sources.
Numerous research teams have been devoted to reducing carbon dioxide emissions. One of the possibilities is to capture it at the point of emission, with methods currently in research including filtering the gas through absorbent materials such as magnetic sponges, bubble-like membranes, zeolite foam, or clay or coffee grinds.
The new technology developed by RMIT is based on a sort of liquid metal called Eutectic Gallium-Indium (EGaIn). During the experiment, EGaIn is heated to 100-120 ° C, and then inject carbon dioxide into the mixture. As the rising bubbles move, the CO2 molecules break into solid carbon flakes, which float to the top, making the material easy to collect.
According to the team, several improvements have been made above the team’s previous efforts. The new technology creates quicker and more efficient reaction, requires relatively low heat and can be sourced from renewable sources. It should thus be reasonably easy to implement and scale up at the point of emission.
Besides, the most significant advantage of the new technology is that it successfully converts CO2 into solid carbon, while many other methods of carbon capture trap it as CO2 gas, which is harder to store and transport and can leak back into the atmosphere. Even attempts to bury it underground, where it can turn back into solid rock within a few years, are not reliable, as much of it remains as a gas, ready to leak back if the seal is broken.
Solid carbon, on the other hand, is stable and may be stored for an extended period without leaking. According to the researchers, it could be reburied or, more promisingly, utilized in other industrial applications such as concrete production.
The team’s next step is to scale up the system to a modular prototype the size of a shipping container.