Gold and Copper for a Cleaner Tomorrow

We’ve covered the many uses for gold before and have been astounded at how this precious metal touches our lives and makes the modern world possible on so many levels. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with another industrial use for gold.

Interestingly, this new use for gold is similar to how palladium is used in catalytic converters, in that it’s used to convert gases.

Copper has been experimented with to work as a catalyst to convert carbon dioxide into methane. While this seems like the opposite of a catalytic converter removing toxins from exhaust (most would agree that methane is more noxious carbon dioxide), the conversion has its uses. For example, a power plant could run all the carbon dioxide it produces through the copper catalyst, and then fuel plant operations with the resulting methane.

However, a copper catalyst is problematic to work with – it often corrodes too quickly or produces unwanted byproducts. However, MIT has found that if nano-particles of gold are mixed with the copper, the catalyst becomes much more stable and highly resistant to corrosion and oxidation.

This may prove to be among the cheapest and most effective ways to convert carbon dioxide into usable energy. In the future, power plants could be using gold to be more efficient than ever!

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