Reposted from CleanTechies:
Carbon dioxide is the result of burning fuel to make things like cars work. Plants slowly convert that CO2 back to something organic to begin the process again. Working in his lab in the University of Delaware’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Joel Rosenthal and doctoral student John DiMeglio have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels in a far faster manner for powering cars, homes and businesses.
Gold and silver represent the gold standard in the world of electrocatalysts for conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. But Rosenthal and his research team have pioneered the development of a much cheaper alternative to these pricey, precious metals. It’s bismuth, a silvery metal with a pink hue that’s a key ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, the famous pink elixir for settling an upset stomach.
Bismuth is a brittle metal with a white, silver-pink hue, often occurring in its native form, with an iridescent oxide tarnish showing many colors from yellow to blue. The spiral, stair-stepped structure of bismuth crystals is the result of a higher growth rate around the outside edges than on the inside edges. The variations in the thickness of the oxide layer that forms on the surface of the crystal causes different wavelengths of light to interfere upon reflection, thus displaying a rainbow of colors.
Moreover, Rosenthal says his UD-patented catalyst offers other important advantages: selectivity and efficiency in converting carbon dioxide to fuel.
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