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From lemons to lemonade: Using carbon dioxide to make carbon nitride

Date:
May 21, 2012
Source:
Michigan Technological University
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a chemical reaction that not only eats up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, it creates some useful compounds to boot.

Transmission electron microscopy image of carbon nitride created by the reaction of carbon dioxide and Li3N.
Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan Technological University

A materials scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that not only eats up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, it also creates something useful. And, by the way, it releases energy.

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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 (C3N4), a semiconductor; and lithium cyanamide (Li2CN2), a precursor to fertilizers.

"The reaction converts CO2 to a solid material," said Hu. "That would be good even if it weren't useful, but it is."

And how much energy does it release? Plenty. 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, or 1,832 degrees Fahrenheit, about the temperature of lava exiting a volcano.

Hu's work is funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yun Hang Hu, Yan Huo. Fast and Exothermic Reaction of CO2and Li3N into C–N-Containing Solid Materials. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 2011; 115 (42): 11678 DOI: 10.1021/jp205499e

Cite This Page:

Michigan Technological University. "From lemons to lemonade: Using carbon dioxide to make carbon nitride." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521115656.htm>.
Michigan Technological University. (2012, May 21). From lemons to lemonade: Using carbon dioxide to make carbon nitride. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521115656.htm
Michigan Technological University. "From lemons to lemonade: Using carbon dioxide to make carbon nitride." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120521115656.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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