Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Will Graphene Solve Global Warming?

Kohlendioxid und Wasserstoff reagieren mithilfe eines Kupfer-Palladium-Katalysators zu Graphen.
Carbon dioxide and hydrogen catalytically react to graphene on copper-palladium surfaces.

Carbon dioxide is known to the general public because of its greenhouse effect. But it can also be a useful raw material. A research group at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), for example, uses carbon dioxide as the basis for synthesizing graphene.

To reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, scientists are looking for alternative energy sources. Another possible solution is to consider CO2 as raw material for the synthesis of recyclable materials and thus reintroduce it into the economic recycling cycle - even in a profitable manner.

A prototype for this can be found in nature: By photosynthesis, plants produce biomass in their leaves using light (energy), water and carbon dioxide. By this the natural material cycle is closed. In this process, it is the task of the enzyme RuBisCO to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it for further chemical reactions in the plant.

Inspired by this metal enzyme-based natural transformation, researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now presented a process in which CO2 and hydrogen are converted directly into graphene at temperatures of up to +1000 °C using specially prepared, catalytically active metal surfaces. "If the metal surface has the right ratio of copper to palladium, we were able to convert carbon dioxide into graphene in a simple one-step process," explains Professor Mario Ruben from the Molecular Materials Working Group at the Institute of Nanotechnology and the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry at KIT.

In further experiments, the researchers even succeeded in producing several layers of graphene, which could be of interest for possible applications in batteries, electronic components or filter materials. The next research goal of the working group is now to form working electronic components from obtained graphene. Carbon materials such as graphene and magnetic molecules could be the building blocks for future quantum computers that will enable ultra-fast and energy-efficient calculations, but will not be based on the binary logic of today's computers.

Original Publication

C. Molina-Jirón, er al.: Direct Conversion of CO2 to Multi-Layer Graphene using Copper-Palladium Alloys, 2019. DOI: 10.1002/cssc.201901404