A team of US scientists have developed a method of converting the carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere into valuable carbon nanofibres, suitable for creating industrial and consumer products ranging from bulletproof vests to artificial human tissue.
Stuart Licht, Ph.D. and his team of chemists at George Washington University first revealed the news at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the technique, funded by the US National Science Foundation, is set to not only help tackle the over-abundance of atmospheric CO2 but also create a brand new carbon nanofibre manufacturing process, which Licht has called “diamonds from the sky.”
The process itself, only requiring a few volts – via solar power – to create the nanofibres, its carbon footprint hugely offset by the CO2 it pulls from the air. Licht claims that the “solar thermal electrochemical process” costs $1,000 per ton of carbon nanofibre.
“We have found a way to use atmospheric CO2 to produce high-yield carbon nanofibers,” Licht said. “Such nanofibers are used to make strong carbon composites, such as those used in the Boeing Dreamliner, as well as in high-end sports equipment, wind turbine blades and a host of other products.”
“We are scaling up quickly,” Licht adds, “and soon should be in range of making tens of grams of nanofibers an hour.”