In a paper published in the journal Nature, researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow describe a copper tubing that combines the natural properties of copper with carbon-neutral properties and is the basis for a new alloy that could reduce CO2 levels.
They report their results using CO2 to create “laces” of copper and other materials that mimic the natural copper alloy and produce the alloy that has the highest CO2 emission potential, with a potential of 100 times the original emission.
The researchers describe the new alloy as a “lace of copper”, but “copper” does not mean the same as “carbon-neutral” in this context, the team said.
“It is important to remember that copper is not the only carbon-negative element, as the other elements in the chemical family, such as carbon-11 and carbon-12, are also carbon-free,” lead researcher Professor Simon Gittleson said in a statement.
“We are hoping to develop this new material as an alternative to copper, which is becoming increasingly expensive, because of the CO2 crisis.”
The new alloy is a carbon-carbon alloy made up of two elements, copper and iron, and can be produced using carbon dioxide or carbon-containing fuels.
Copper is the most abundant element in nature, and is found in many minerals, including copper and silver.
It is often used in copper jewelry, but the research team said copper-based CO2 “lacing” would be an ideal alternative for reducing the carbon footprint of electricity generation, which accounts for a large portion of the country’s CO2.
The study involved researchers working with materials and engineering company Carbon Engineering to develop a new type of CO2 catalyst that can be used to produce the copper-and-iron alloy.
“The process of producing this catalyst was the main challenge for us,” lead author Dr Mark Hickey said.”[We] needed to ensure that it could be commercially viable, but also be safe, both for industrial use and for commercial production.”
This led to the development of a catalyst that is capable of reacting with CO2 directly, and this is a key ingredient of the new catalyst.
“The research is described in Nature Chemistry.