Drat

Slashdot has an excited item about a new catalyst that turns CO2 dissolved in water into ethanol. CO2 To Ethanol In One Step With Cheap Catalyst Sounds great, right?

Not so fast: if I understand it (corrections welcomed!) the paper itself warns it still takes too much energy to be worthwhile:

We report an electrocatalyst which operates at room temperature and in water for the electroreduction of dissolved CO2 with high selectivity for ethanol. The overpotential (which might be lowered with the proper electrolyte, and by separating the hydrogen production to another catalyst) probably precludes economic viability for this catalyst, but the high selectivity for a 12-electron reaction suggests that nanostructured surfaces with multiple reactive sites in close proximity can yield novel reaction mechanisms. This suggests that the synergistic effect from interactions between Cu and CNS presents a novel strategy for designing highly selective electrocatalysts.

Guess we haven’t solved global warming yet.

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