American scientists transform CO2 into super-strong industrial fibers

According to lead researcher Dr. Stuart Licht, a full-scale version of this technology could cut the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide to pre-industrial levels within 10 years.

American scientists have developed a promising technology that could help reverse damage done to our atmosphere by pollution, by capturing carbon dioxide from the air and transforming it into a super-strong carbon-based material with many industrial applications. The technical name for this process is Catalytic Chemical Vapor Deposition (CCVD).

According to lead researcher Dr. Stuart Licht of George Washington University, a full-scale version of this technology could cut the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to pre-industrial levels within 10 years.

CCVD is a variation on the carbon capture and storage (CSS) techniques that have been around since 2000, which involve capturing carbon dioxide from major polluting sources and “sequestering” it, which usually means burying it in the ground.

In comparison, this new technology not only removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it turns this waste product into something useful – namely, carbon nanofibers.

Carbon nanofibers are incredibly strong. They are partially composed of thin layers of pure carbon known as graphene, one of the strongest materials known to science and has superlative electrical and thermal conductivity.

Today, these super-strong nanofibers are incorporated into the manufacture of high-end electronic components and batteries, high-end sports equipment, and wind turbines. They can also be used to help clean up oil spills.

The future potential uses for carbon nanofibers are nearly limitless, and include use in tougher bulletproof vests, artificial muscles or rebuilding damaged hearts.

Another strength of Dr. Licht’s improved CCVD method is the small amount of energy required to power it. A hybrid system incorporating solar cells and a thermal energy collector is used to bring the bath to the required temperature, a process said to use as little as a single volt of electricity.

This research is being presented at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Boston this week.

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