Greenhouse Gas to Semiconductor
A materials scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that takes the greenhouse gas CO2, something we might have too much of, and makes something we can use, releasing energy along the way.
Making carbon-based products from CO2 is nothing new, but carbon dioxide molecules are so stable that those reactions usually take up a lot of energy. If that energy were to come from fossil fuels, over time the chemical reactions would ultimately result in more carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere—defeating the purpose of a process that could otherwise help mitigate climate change.
Professor Yun Hang Hu’s research team developed a heat-releasing reaction between carbon dioxide and Li3N that forms two chemicals: amorphous carbon nitride, a semiconductor; and lithium cyanamide, a precursor to fertilizers. Hu’s team added carbon dioxide to less than a gram of Li3N at 330 degrees Celsius, and the surrounding temperature jumped almost immediately to about 1,000 degrees Celsius.
Hu’s work is funded by the National Science Foundation and detailed in the article “Fast and Exothermic Reaction of CO2 and Li3N into C–N-Containing Solid Materials,” authored by Hu and graduate student Yan Huo and published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry.
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