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Researchers find effective methane catalyst made from cheap copper

Researchers find effective methane catalyst made from cheap copper

Most of the technologies needed for the energy transition have been around for a long time, but in order to scale them up properly, some of them also need to become cheaper. The result is also a massive search for new catalysts, and a research project can now yield results.

Quantities become important

At McGill University, scientists have found… to examineHow can carbon dioxide be made from air into methane efficiently using widely available and cheap materials? Now they have found a solution in the form of copper.

However, it is not enough here to create copper surfaces through which the reactants pass. Instead, researchers have had success using small copper particles, called nanoclusters. With these, the catalyst surface can ultimately be greatly expanded.

Our main finding was that small copper nanoclusters were very efficient at producing methane. This was an important finding, indicating that the size and structure of the copper nanoclusters play a crucial role in the outcome of the reaction.

Mehdi Salehi, PhD student at McGill University

Closed circle

In order to produce methane from carbon dioxide, energy is still needed. This can be obtained from surpluses generated by solar or wind turbines. The methane can then be used to power a gas-fired power plant, for example, which operates when there is too little sun and wind available to cover current electricity needs.

Ultimately, closed cycles could be created: excess energy is stored as the gas methane. If it is used to produce electricity, it is burned again to produce carbon dioxide, which can be captured directly and converted back into methane. This would create a closed carbon cycle that releases no new carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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summary

  • McGill University researchers are looking for new catalysts for energy transition.
  • Copper nanoclusters enable efficient synthesis of methane from atmospheric carbon dioxide
  • The size and structure of the nanoclusters play a crucial role in the interaction.
  • Methane production requires energy, ideally from renewable sources.
  • Methane is used to store energy and produce electricity during peak times.
  • A closed carbon cycle prevents new carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
  • A research project can make a significant contribution to expanding the scope of technology.

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