New Nanogenerator Transforms CO2 Into Electricity

By: | May 21st, 2024

Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

Researchers from the University of Queensland’s Dow Center for Sustainable Engineering Innovation have created a generator that turns carbon dioxide (CO2) into electrical power. This advanced technology not only gives promise for reducing greenhouse gas emissions but also transforms CO2 into a valuable resource for producing electricity.

The nanogenerator is built by combining hexagonal boron nitride nanosheets and polyethyleneimine, which are already optimized for efficient ion separation and electricity generation. The structure allows for the effective capture of CO2 and transformation into electrical energy, which is inspired by biological ionics where energy conversion is driven by regulated ion transport.

This small, proof-of-concept nanogenerator is made of two components, including a polyamine gel used in industry to absorb CO2 and a boron nitrate skeleton to initiate a diffusion current from CO2, to generate electricity. This technology is said to go beyond mere carbon neutrality as it is carbon-negative, reducing CO2 levels in the environment while supplying power.

Researchers made the positive ions much larger than the negative ions. When they move at different speeds because of their different sizes, they generate a diffusion current, which can be amplified into electricity to power light bulbs or any electronic device.

To make this happen, scientists put the two components into a hydrogel with 90 percent water and cut them into 4-centimeter discs and small rectangles before letting them test in a sealed box pumped full of CO2.

Initial tests have shown the generator’s ability to power small electronic devices, researchers are working on ongoing developments aiming to enhance its efficiency and scalability. According to Professor Xiwang Zhang, the director of the Dow Centre, their goal is to integrate this generator into broader applications, including mobile devices and industrial systems integrated with CO2 capture technologies.

The Earth is warming more and more because the CO2 build-up is occurring as the world’s carbon-based fossil fuels are being burned, which also comes from the production of electricity. The University of Queensland’s development of the CO2-absorbing nanogenerator is a significant advancement in the field of sustainable energy. By CO2 for electricity generation, this technology can pave the way for new approaches to energy production and environmental preservation.

Ashton Henning

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