Earth’s atmosphere is saturated with carbon dioxide residues that trigger for global warming and other abnormalities. Luckily, a group of scientists came up with the idea of recycling CO2 into plastic.
Even though plastic is not an environment-friendly piece of material, turning the CO2 which is polluting the atmosphere into plastic can speed up the action against atmospheric pollution.
This approach is brand new as the scientists have just recently found a way to convert CO2 from the atmosphere into ethylene which is the raw material from which polyethylene, or plastic as we commonly call it, is made of.
Scientists at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan used computer modeling and electromagnetic radiation to discover a key catalyst to use.
The equipment developed by CLS permitted researchers to measure the chemical environment and the shape of the catalyst. The measurements let the scientists understand how the whole process works and what actions can be taken in order to improve it. The catalyst triggers a CO2 reduction reaction which permits the CO2 to be converted into other chemicals when it is ‘powered’ with electric current.
Scientists used copper as the catalyst as it is a well-known fact that copper is the only metal that can produce ethylene. Also, researchers have successfully maximised the ethylene production while they’ve kept the waste amounts at minimum levels.
Now that they have the technology and also know how to do it, scientists are really looking forward to removing the CO2 waste from the atmosphere in order to transform it into plastic. And because a renewable source can be used to provide the energy needed during the process and the plastic converted from CO2 is reusable or recyclable, researchers think that the impact will be positive.
The findings can really make a difference but until then the team of scientists involved in recycling CO2 into plastic still needs to do more research in this regard in order to improve the techniques.