Some experts are working on the issue of reducing emissions into the atmosphere, others are learning to extract carbon that has already got there, and still others are solving the problem: what can be done with it later? An international research team has developed a method for converting gaseous carbon to solid at room conditions. It is based on work with liquid metal catalysts.
Carbon gas is mixed with a liquid electrolyte and placed in a flask. Then a mixture of gallium and cerium is poured into it - a catalyst. If you now apply an electric current to the liquid in the flask, the catalyst will start a chemical reaction that turns carbon dioxide into thin plates or flakes on the surface of the solution. This is the solid carbon that only needs to be collected.
Usually carbon conversion requires high temperatures, but here everything happens in room conditions, albeit slowly. It's all about the catalyst, which conducts electricity very efficiently and at the same time does not mix with carbon flakes, remaining in a liquid form. All that remains to be done is the electricity source and how to filter carbon flakes from the liquid, and a simple, scalable technology for converting carbon dioxide to coal is ready.
The authors of the study call the solid form of carbon "coal" out of habit, although these substances are not entirely identical. In particular, flakes can be compressed and made into electrodes, and the ability of the material itself to accumulate and store charge opens up new possibilities for creating batteries. Also, it is suitable for use as a synthetic fuel. Finally, solid carbon can be poured back into old coal mines, thus returning the resource to the planet. And in the future it will surely find a new use.