Converting CO2 pollution into carbon for batteries

MIT Technology Review details a new approach to battery making that could utilise carbon dioxide from the air for conversion into carbon nanotubes to be used in high-performance battery production. The research – a collaboration between George Washington University and Vanderbilt University – could both reduce the costs of creating carbon nanotubes and play a part in battling climate change. From the article:

“Capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide is expensive and unproven at the scale needed to significantly reduce emissions. The deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is well behind schedule if it is to play the role that the governments behind the recent Paris climate agreement are betting it can play. In the absence of climate policies like a cap-and-trade system or carbon tax, the economics just don’t work.”

“That might change if the gas could be turned into a valuable product. Researchers have previously devised methods for using carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels like methanol, but those products have been relatively low-value commodities. Given the cost of today’s batteries, the new method makes a kilogram of carbon dioxide six times more valuable than one that is converted into methanol, says Stuart Licht, a professor of chemistry at George Washington.”

“Replacing commonly used graphite anodes with carbon nanotubes can boost the storage capacity of advanced batteries. In proof-of-concept lab tests, Licht and his colleagues showed that nanotubes made with their process gave a small boost to the capacity of small lithium-ion batteries and almost quadrupled the capacity of sodium-ion batteries, an emerging energy storage technology.”