Oct 19, 2016 02:57 PM EDT

CO2 to Ethanol Accidental Discovery: Scientist Discovers Transformation Process By Accident

By Leah

Scientists have just discovered how to turn waste gas CO2 into useful ethanol. A discovery that seems to be just an accidental revelation today could turn out to be saving planet earth in the future.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee researchers was working on a study to find out how chemical reactions could turn CO2 into some useful gasses. Little did they know that they are in for a big surprise and a great science breakthrough.

By making up a catalyst made of nitrogen, copper, and carbon, they arranged copper nanoparticles to form nitrogen-laced carbon spikes. They later supplied a low 1.2 volts amount of electric current. The researchers were then surprised by the result seeing the CO2 solution dissolving in water into ethanol at 63 percent yield, according to The Science Alert.

It was a surprise to the researchers since they were expecting to have this kind of outcome at the latter part of the process. What they were expecting to see at the first part of the study was the CO2 dissolving in water and turning out to be methanol, known to be a less desirable chemical type.

Adam Rondinone, a scientist from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that going directly from CO2 to ethanol was a surprise as it is really hard to get such kind of result with a single catalyst.

Ethanol is a very useful gas needed in powering up vehicles and generators. The US alone need billions of gallons of the said gas to be added to gasoline.

The team is looking at the possibility of bringing the said discovery to the industrial level. It is not going to be difficult for them as the catalyst only required economical materials, requiring modest electrical supply.

Converting CO2 to ethanol would mean great as atmospheric CO2 continues to increase marking the record last month of the highest level in four million years, The Popular Mechanics reported.

Watch this video for more about the story.

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