Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy

Public Release: 19-Jan-2019

Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy

Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology(UNIST)

190672_web

IMAGE: This is a schematic illustration of Hybrid Na-CO2 System and its reaction mechanism. view more

Credit: UNIST

A recent study, affiliated with UNIST has developed a system that produces electricity and hydrogen (H2) while eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main contributor of global warming.

Published This breakthrough has been led by Professor Guntae Kim in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST in collaboration with Professor Jaephil Cho in the Department of Energy Engineering and Professor Meilin Liu in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

In this work, the research team presented Hybrid Na-CO2 system that can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen through efficient CO2 conversion with stable operation for over 1,000 hr from spontaneous CO2 dissolution in aqueous solution.

“Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies have recently received a great deal of attention for providing a pathway in dealing with global climate change,” says Professor Kim. “The key to that technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials.” He adds, “Our new system has solved this problem with CO2 dissolution mechanism.”

Much of human CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and turned into acidity. The researchers focused on this phenomenon and came up with the idea of melting CO2 into water to induce an electrochemical reaction. If acidity increases, the number of protons increases, which in turn increases the power to attract electrons. If a battery system is created based on this phenomenon, electricity can be produced by removing CO2.

Their Hybrid Na-CO2 System, just like a fuel cell, consists of a cathode (sodium metal), separator (NASICON), and anode (catalyst). Unlike other batteries, catalysts are contained in water and are connected by a lead wire to a cathode. When CO2 is injected into the water, the entire reaction gets started, eliminating CO2 and creating electricity and H2. At this time, the conversion efficiency of CO2 is high at 50%.

“This hybrid Na-CO2 cell, which adopts efficient CCUS technologies, not only utilizes CO2 as the resource for generating electrical energy but also produces the clean energy source, hydrogen,” says Jeongwon Kim in the Combined M.S/Ph.D. in Energy Engineering at UNIST, the co-first author for the research.

In particular, this system has shown stability to the point of operating for more than 1,000 hours without damage to electrodes. The system can be applied to remove CO2 by inducing voluntary chemical reactions.

“This research will lead to more derived research and will be able to produce H2 and electricity more effectively when electrolytes, separator, system design, and electrocatalysts are improved,” said Professor Kim.###

 

Journal Reference

Changmin Kim et. al., “Efficient CO2 Utilization via a Hybrid Na-CO2 System Based on CO2 Dissolution,” iScience, (2018).

From EurekAlert!

HT/David B

Advertisements

150 thoughts on “Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy

  1. For the life of me I cannot understand why anyone would want to reduce CO2 the basic building block of life on this planet. We need more not less. I’m with fossil, burn baby burn.😊

    • So if I’m following their diagram, they want to take the CO2 – a weak greenhouse gas and use it to eventually fill our cars with H2 so we end up with H2O – a strong greenhouse gas. I’m envisioning the LA basin sitting in a perpetual fog and the greenies screaming how H2O is destroying the planet.

      Does this make sense?

        • Some geologist just needs to discover that sodium metal mine, and sodium metal is soft so it should be easy to mine.

          • Sodium metal is highly reactive you are not going to find a “mine” of sodium metal anywhere, any more than you find a mine of pure aluminium. Mines produce oxides which then need reducing to a metal.

            Leo is right. As always, the first and obvious question is : how much energy is required to provide the ingredients for this reaction.

            CO2 is already oxidized, you are NEVER going to conceive a means of getting something burnable again without inputting more energy than you will ever recover from re-burning it. How much energy is needed to remove this CO2 and how much Na are you going to need to produce a measurable impact on proportion of CO2 in the entire atmosphere? It’s stupid to even try.

            This breakthrough has been led by Professor Guntae Kim in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST in collaboration with Professor Jaephil Cho in the Department of Energy Engineering

            This is not inept. Anyone with these qualifications knows it is a joke. It is nothing more than cynical grant seeking for public funds using the magic mantra of “carbon”

            BTW what are we supposed to do the gigatonnes of NaHCO3 which is produced? Maybe we can waste even more energy and recover the sodium back out and produce water and CO2 !!

          • Energy is the primary problem with this proposal. CO2 is a low energy molecule – the residue along with water from the release of chemical energy in carbohydrates. Hydrogen gas is a high energy molecule – just try putting a flame to some and see what happens (or review footage of the Hindenburg’s last docking). They claim they can generate both high energy molecules (hydrogen) and extra electricity from their reaction but don’t disclose where the energy comes from to make that happen. They seem to be pretending they have a chemical perpetual motion machine. Good luck.

          • Greg,

            BTW what are we supposed to do the gigatonnes of NaHCO3 which is produced?

            Bake a sh*tload of bread and pancakes??

          • Whenever a new CO2 capture scheme is publicized, the first thing I do is look at the energy balance. This one uses sodium metal, not a nice material to handle, esp. around water. There is no way that the process will not need more energy than it generates, unless they do indeed find a sodium metal deposit, which can only exist in the absence of water. I guess you could use a process like this on a submarine to scrub out the CO2, but there are better ways.

          • Sodium metal does not exist naturally. Anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry would know that.

            I presume you are just being sarcastic, right?

          • Thanks Carl. Happy to know so many people see right thru this BS. If we could somehow get thru to the scientifically illiterate media. Wouldn’t that be nice?

        • “Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy”

          BS, what they are doing is converting usable energy into usable energy, probably with an efficiency < 50% . EUREKA! that will solve world's energy needs , won't it.

          continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen through efficient CO2 conversion

          Define efficient

          • Pretty obvious that much of the sodium on the surface has combined with chlorine and is either in the oceans or in halite deposits.
            There are some other sodium containing minerals, like feldspar and sodalite.
            Sodium is rare in the solar system (0.0033 % by weight, 2 ppm by atom fraction), but concentrated on the surface of the earth to 2.8%.

        • Right on target, Leo. It’ll take more energy to produce the sodium metal than they’ll get out of it.

          Making sodium metal will produce more CO2 than they’ll remove using their battery.

          The “spontaneous CO2 dissolution” step apparently means the battery runs off CO2 at its equilibrium solution concentration driven by the 400 ppm partial pressure in air. The current density produced by that process is close to zilch. They’ll never run anything off it.

          The water in the cathode side, where H2 is released, will become more alkaline as the CO2 reaction proceeds. It will have to be replaced regularly, or the reaction grinds to a halt.

          And this, “melting CO2 into water” is a fine display of ignorance.

          The reaction is pretty much sodium metal plus water makes hydrogen plus sodium hydroxide. Add CO2, and you get some sodium carbonate. That’s it.

          Those people at GA Tech, Guntae Kim, Jaephil Cho , and Meilin Liu, ought to be hiding their heads in shame over touting such nonsense.

          • Perzactly Frank. Sodium metal is so reactive it will burst into flames if exposed to air. Throw a bit into water an it can explode. A first year chemistry demo.

            Later on you learn about entropy, enthalpy, activation energy and all the nuts and bolts of chemistry that make this publication look exactly as stupid as it really is.

            TANSTAAFL

        • The only problem with getting large amounts of sodium is that it is predicated on the continuing industrial use of large amounts of chlorine. Both Sodium and Chlorine are produced by separating them from salt.

          Much of the energy used to produce the sodium electrode is retrieved from the Sodium-CO2 battery that produces hydrogen as a by product. The crushing mass of stupid is using the generated hydrogen gas to provide hydrogen filling stations.

          It would be a much more useful scheme for electric vehicles if the Sodium-CO2 cell was used to produce hydrogen from water stored on the vehicle. Basically, you could just store hydrogen on the EV in the form of water and introduce sodium to the water to evolve the hydrogen needed for the fuel cell, but the Sodium-CO2 cell reacts the sodium with the water at a rate controllable by varying the current from the Sodium-CO2 cell.

          Now I am thinking of a straightforward way to get this technology on the road faster. Highway tractors with three fuel cells working in series: A decane-oxygen fuel cell converts diesel oil and oxygen to electricity, CO2, and water. The CO2 and water go to a Sodium-CO2 cell to produce electricity and Hydrogen. Finally, the hydrogen goes to a hydrogen fuel cell to produce electricity and water.

          If the dissolved NaHCO3 can be collected and returned to the HCl solution left behind where the sodium was liberated from the salt, the problem of what to do with the chlorine is solved.

          • If an economical way to produce H2 from H2O is developed, trying to use that H2 to fuel vehicles would be a waste. Far more efficient to burn that H2 to produce electricity for charging EV’s.

            At least, that is what they would be saying if they really thought CO2 was a problem and were trying to present a viable solution.

            SR

      • There diagram leaves much missing. What exactly are the reactions occurring.
        The organic equation seems to omit where the Carbon gets removed.
        I see plenty of C and O going in, and I assume the H must be replenished as I don’t see it being added.
        Does the Na Cathode and separator get consumed?

        • Maybe the ‘organic electrolyte’ is a long chain hydrocarbon molecule that is consumed in the reaction, ‘sacrificed’ to preserve the anode from galvanic corrosion. Perhaps something like Jet A or diesel or, dare I say, gasoline? Energy must come from some where. It is just the cynic in me.

          • The galvanic dissolution from the sodium anode is the source of the energy for the battery setup shown.

        • Sodium is the anode, meaning it dissolves.
          This is shown by the Na+ leaving the plate and combining with the bicarbonate, which is where the carbon goes.
          In solution, the NA and bicarbonate stay dissolved as separate ions, unless I suppose the solution becomes saturated with them. But that would tend to inhibit the reaction which produces it.
          Note the sodium anode is sitting in an organic electrolyte solvent. Most organics are nonpolar, meaning they do not readily ionize in solution.
          If the sodium was in the water, it would instantly explode.
          It takes a lot of energy to produce sodium metal, which must be kept from water.
          My guess is this setup would be expensive to make and not given to scalability.

          • Not bicarbonate…my mistake. Carbonate ions and sodium ions…soda ash.
            Dissolving soda ash in water is exothermic, so to precipitate it out would take addition of energy…endothermic.
            It hardly matters…the cost of sodium metal is very high.
            Note they said it was an efficient reaction, but nothing about the cost effectiveness of the method.
            Sodium has a single electron in it’s valence shell, and so wants to shed that electron, which is the actual source of the energy here.
            They say CO2 is the source, but that ignores the input cost of the sodium metal and the cost in energy to produce it.

          • Sodium is produced by running an electric current through salt water and plating the sodium out of solution onto the negative electrode. Chlorine bubbles out at the positive electrode. The voltage is set to separate the salt, not the water. The impressed voltage keeps the plated out sodium from reacting with the water. Energy is recovered by dissolving the sodium electrode and recombining the evolved hydrogen with oxygen in a hydrogen fuel cell.

            Scalability is not that great an issue as the best way to deliver the evolved hydrogen to a hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicle is to have the sodium air cell on the same vehicle as the hydrogen fuel cell. The only issue is that the sodium air cell needs to bubble a lot of air through the cell. At 400ppm, there is enough CO2 in 20 cubic meters of air to produce an amp-hour of current, so it is better to drive the cell with a more concentrated source of CO2 than the air.

            As the aqueous electrolyte holds on to the CO2, the scheme makes more sense as a way to make use of sequestered carbon than as a way to sequester carbon

        • The CO2 becomes sodium carbonate, Na2CO3, RS. CO2 doesn’t get reduced in that system. There is no organic reaction.

          The Na metal gets consumed. The separator is electrochemically inert, but transfers Na(+) ions over to the water side of the reactor. The Na(+) migration maintains electroneutrality as H(+) gets converted to H2.

          The system can never be recharged, like a common battery. The Na metal cathode will have to be physically replaced, along with the saturated sodium carbonate solution on the water side of the separator.

          The whole story is pure unadulterated garbage.

          • It is not pure unadulterated garbage.

            Sodium forms ionic bonds, not covalent bonds, so the separation of sodium from what it is bonded to is not that expensive and sodium metal is a byproduct of producing chlorine for industrial applications. The battery cannot be recharged, but it can be recycled.

            It may not be useful for the purpose of sequestering atmospheric CO2, but if the cell is supplied with CO2 at a higher density than ambient air, the CO2 ends up sequestered. Storing and distributing the released hydrogen is still a non-starter, but if the hydrogen fuel cell is at the same location as the sodium cell, you can match the output of the sodium cell to the demands of the hydrogen fuel cell and eliminate storage and distribution issues.

            It is a pile of manure, but there is a pony not too far away.

      • No, different targets. This one uses concentrated CO2 eg exhaust, Gates’ one is direct capture from air in low concentration.

    • Another nonsense idea.
      Plants already do it very efficiently using freely available renewable solar energy . They donate it free of charge in form of multitude of crops, grazing grass, building industry timber, firewood etc, etc.
      Who else think that could do better needs his/her head looked up in MR scanner.

    • If I understand correctly they turn CO2 into NaCO3 (sodium bicarbonate = soda ash).
      Actually sodium bicarbonate has several industrial uses… most of which involve RELEASING CO2 back into the air!
      Of course we could restart the mummification industry (natron salts were used to desiccate mummies in ancient Egypt)

      • Note that one atom of sodium metal is consumed for every molecule of CO2 removed.
        I would like to see how much that electricity winds up costing after accounting the price of this setup?
        To remove tons of CO2 from the air, a lot of sodium will be required.
        The ratio is 2 to 1.
        1000 pounds of sodium consumed to remove 2000 pounds of CO2, given that atomic weight of sodium is 22 grams per mole, and molecular weight of CO2 is ~44 grams per mole.

      • Sodium is listed as somewhere around $2500-3000 per ton.
        But that lower price appears to be for 97% pure metal. Not sure if that is pure enough for a setup like this.
        If it requires very pure metal, it might be insanely expensive.
        As it is, it would appear that this setup costs thousands of dollars to remove a ton of CO2 from the air.

        • If I’m understanding the chemistry, the anode doesn’t need sodium of any great purity. But the process is still a net loser energetically.

      • Oh wait…I was wrong. It is not sodium bicarbonate produced, it is, as you point out, soda ash, which is Na2CO3.
        So double that cost for the sodium required.
        Two atoms of sodium for each one of CO2 removed.
        Soda ash can be made very cheaply from brine and limestone.
        This would appear to be the most expensive way to make soda ash every invented, although I am not sure of that.
        I think it would be cheaper to buy land and plant trees to remove CO2 from the air, plus then you own land and lumber.

    • First, capturing, transporting, and introducing CO2 from power plant emissions takes infrastructure as well as energy.

      Second, the CO2 is NOT converted or even energetically altered in this process. It simply forms carbonic acid, which ionizes to bicarbonate and neutralizes the Na+ ions migrating into the solution.

      Third, the elephant in the system is the sodium metal anode. It takes the electrolysis of molten NaCl to make sodium metal, which reacts quite violently in contact with water. So, all of the energy used to make the sodium metal is lost as the metal goes back to sodium ions while reducing H+ in the water to hydrogen gas.

      Fourth, the hydrogen has to be collected, compressed, transported, and distributed.

      It would be much more efficient to simply use the power plant’s electricity to electrolyze water, if what you want is hydrogen gas. The above process has too many steps and has energy losses every step of the way. Another waste of research time and money.

  2. The diagram shows CO2 as an input and H2 and electricity (for the incandescent lightbulb) as outputs. It takes energy to do that. They don’t show an explicit energy input. That leads to the conclusion that the electrodes (or electrolyte) are consumed.

    This project is just an expensive way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. My guess is that the production of the consumable electrodes will result in more CO2 in the atmosphere.

    • The Sodium metal anode is consumed. It hardly needs to be mentioned that manufacturing the anode takes more energy than can be gained by oxidizing the hydrogen.

      This is just another boondoggle intended for ignorant politicians.

      • tty, you nailed it. Basically they are just manufacturing and then burning sodium metal, with a net loss of energy in the process.

      • tty
        “…This is just another boondoggle intended for ignorant politicians…”
        Could we get them to repeal and replace the Laws of Thermodynamics?? I’m sure AOC would run with the idea.. imagine what we could do with perpetual motion machines and negative entropy!!
        just musing
        Cheers
        Mike

    • Exactly. It is a perpetual motion machine.

      It generates energy by consuming a sodium anode. The energy it produces could be use to make a sodium cathode out of salt and so on..

      I cannot believe this load of wombat excrement ever got published

      • And not even on EurekAlert!

        The South Koreans are giving EurekAlert! a run for their money this week.

        • oops, I stand corrected. It was EurekAlert! after all.

          I guess we should have expected that, like the Patriots being in the Super Bowl.

    • Great comment commiebob!
      Along with solid followup comments by tty and ScarletMacaw.

      “Credit: UNIST
      A recent study, affiliated with UNIST has developed a system that produces electricity and hydrogen (H2) while eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main contributor of global warming.”

      “Their Hybrid Na-CO2 System, just like a fuel cell, consists of a cathode (sodium metal), separator (NASICON), and anode (catalyst). Unlike other batteries, catalysts are contained in water and are connected by a lead wire to a cathode. When CO2 is injected into the water, the entire reaction gets started, eliminating CO2 and creating electricity and H2. At this time, the conversion efficiency of CO2 is high at 50%.”

      “In particular, this system has shown stability to the point of operating for more than 1,000 hours without damage to electrodes. The system can be applied to remove CO2 by inducing voluntary chemical reactions.

      “This research will lead to more derived research and will be able to produce H2 and electricity more effectively when electrolytes, separator, system design, and electrocatalysts are improved,” said Professor Kim.”

      A) It is called a perpetual motion machine; i.e. impossible.
      B) N.B. the reference to magical catalysts and electrolytes; all without damage to the electrodes… Imagine that, automatically recycled sodium atoms…

      C) N.B. And of course the reference to future research that improves the design, electrolytes, separator and catalysts…

      Which is a blunt statement that this does not actually work and “Please send lots of money”!
      .
      One wonders just how they reached their claim for a 1,000 hours stability mark? Sure sounds like a fantasy model in operation.
      Not to overlook that 1,000 hours is forty one and 0.6666 days; or commonly known as one month, one and a half weeks.

      • They call it a battery, which automatically means that the anode is consumed and is the source of the energy the battery provides.
        The setup and writeup by these guys are a joke.
        As you point out.

    • If UNIST can pull this one off, perhaps then they can find me a round trip bike rout that is downhill all the way. That would be cool

  3. (Repeatedly bangs head on desk at the stupidity of all this)

    You can’t get energy from nothing. If you take energy out of a system SOMETHING had to put it there in the first place. Carbon Dioxide is the waste product of burning Carbon in an Oxygen environment, so it has no more energy to give, at least chemically. It TAKES energy to break down CO2 and it TAKES energy to break down the Water. This energy is coming from somewhere, and it could be just as easily used differently.

    When a plant takes in CO2 and water, and releases Oxygen, it uses the energy in sunlight to do it. It can’t do it without the sun, because these molecules don’t have any more potential energy to give. This process is exactly the same.

    • In an interview at our company with a MIT PhD grad, he said at his last job that he was working on a highly reversible reaction (funded by the DOE) to store energy from CSP. It utilized CaO+CO2 and gave off energy when absorbing CO2. Couple of things that caught my eye in the presentation: 1) it required like 20000 miles of piping for one CSP plant and 2) the reaction occurred at 750°C.

      My question after the presentation to him was (ignoring the very high temperature requirement for the reaction), “If you are absorbing CO2 and giving off energy in the process, why isn’t this being developed for CCS?” The dumb look he gave me was priceless.

    • See Jenne’s comment below, which shows that hydrogen is produced directly. One can generate heat by making Na2O from combustion but the solid product would be difficult to handle, i.e. very inconvenient. The fallacy as many have pointed out is that making Na in the first place is energy intensive.

    • Since griff seems to be offline, let me help out…

      There’s so much nuisance sodium metal just laying around to be picked up. And if we run out of that, there’s an inexhaustible supply in the ocean. Zillions of gigatons of NaCl. In thirty years we will have cheap, abundant fusion power and we can extract the Na at the same time we’re extracting the deuterium.

      Now addressing the coproduct sodium bicarbonate, which some people inexplicably think is useless. We need that to make many baked goods. So we should be able to make trillions of dollars on that, since there are no readily available sources of baking soda or we’re running out or something. (Note to self- make something up here that will be more believable, then delete this comment). My model indicates actually a potential of 1.26239876 e 7 USD/hr. I ran it twice, so it must be right.

      The hydrogen is easy to use as a transportation fuel, no difficulty with embrittled metals (oil industry lies). And if we make the sodium metal from salt, then chlorine gas will come in handy for gassing climate deniers.

      • “sodium bicarbonate, which some people inexplicably think is useless”
        Not those with heartburn.

    • Hydrogen and electric generation powered by Na-CO2-H2O battery. How come we don’t use batteries to power our industries, homes or even to store electric power in the grid? $$$$$$

    • An aqueous solution of sodium bicarbonate is continuously formed and the problem you elude to is that this has to be removed as it will build up. BTW HCO3- is the negatively charged bicarbonate ion, not a molecule which by standard definition are neutral. Sodium ion is +1 charged.

      • It is not bicarbonate produced, but carbonate…soda ash.
        Which will accumulate and block the reaction very quickly unless the water is replaced.
        Then it takes energy to dehydrate the soda ash.

  4. Without a process energy balance the diagram is meaningless in terms of usefulness.
    I suspect this is a form of partial photosynthesis which, however, requires an energy input.
    Interesting none the less. Presumably the Anode is consumed; otherwise I am in no position to comment.

  5. So where is all the sodium metal coming from, and what do you do with the sodium hydro carbonate left over?

    If you want to turn CO2 into fuel, just run cars on alcohol, VW and Fiat have been doing this for decades in Brazil.

    • Or have a wood stove or coal fire and that’s been going for centuries. I am told you can even use wood chips, coal and gas to generate electricity actually recycling CO2 but more efficiently. Though the concept may be a little abstruse for UNIST

  6. Now, if only we could find an energy free way to “mine” the sodium metal consumed in the reaction, we could have that perpetual motion machine! / sarc.

  7. Oh dear, the Green lot won’t like this. I don’t know what the energy balance or value of this potential technology is, but it seems to tick all the green alarmist boxes, which means they will have to deny, it is of any value. They will perhaps claim it will produce more pollution than any potential benefit.
    The Greens can not have a system that provides energy and removes CO2. That will destroy their prime villain at a stroke. What will they turn to then Their urgency to de-industrialise the planet and destroy capitalism and spread socialism requires a pan world issue, that demonises energy?

  8. Much of human CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and turned into acidity.

    That was the give away … acidity ???

    • Exactly. This absurdity of a process description should never have been published without showing all the inputs and outputs.

    • It’s listed on the lower left in the water side.
      It reacts with the cathode electrode and precipitates out as sodium bicarbonate.
      All they’ve demonstrated is a very expensive way to make sodium bicarbonate and a little electricity.
      “It’s a bad idea whose time has come.”

  9. Aside from “burning” the sodium anode, producing hydrogen gas requires more energy to compress and store the gas, which is dangerous to store and use. Another silly green device?

    • If the process combined the Hydrogen with the Carbon to create a stable molecule (say methane, or even better isooctane) then I would be more useful.

      It still would burn Sodium, though. And would therefore require more energy then it produced.

      ~¿~

    • Let’s say the process is viable, then it would be logical to pump the excess hydrogen into a fuel cell on premise and produce electricity.

  10. Another garbage post derived from EurekAlert!
    I wish ctm would put the notice of the EurekAlert! source at the top of the article instead of the bottom. That way we all could see that the post is not worth reading.

    jenne (above) has it exactly right. Sodium metal is the source of the power.
    As every even slightly bratty chemistry student knows, when you throw sodium metal in water, you get sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrogen gas. (BOOM!)
    Then you add The Evil Gas (CO2) to make Sodium biEvilate (NaHCO3) to eliminate the hydroxide and secure grant funding.
    All they have done is to run the reaction in an electrochemical cell to separate the half reactions.
    Seems like a lot of trouble to make baking soda, although you do get some electricity out of it.

    • “That way we all could see that the post is not worth reading”

      As soon as I saw “Carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main contributor of global warming” in the first sentence I knew the rest was going to be bunk…

  11. What a complete and utter waste of time. You’d have to waste energy concentrating CO2 from the atmosphere, waste more energy making the sodium, which is always going to be a significant hazard in any commercial system, and then waste more energy in the final inefficient reaction. And then there’s the cost of manufacturing the machinery.

    Oh.. and you also have to build the hydrogen economy in the mean time.
    Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. Not even an undergraduate fail.

  12. But look at the positive side. The process would produce mountains of sodium bicarbonate (Alka Seltzer) that will be needed when contemplating our electricity bills each month.

  13. Neat… how many TENS OF BILLIONS OF THESE are we gonna need to compensate for 7 billion people breathing?

    I mean the output is technically water vapor, a real voluthermal atmospheric buffer, but it’s neat.

    How many hundreds of pounds does this have to be in order to charge my phone?

  14. Every schoolchild will be able to tell you that there is a cheaper way of trapping CO2 as a bicarbonate and that is via the Solvay process. It was observed , about 200 years ago that CO2 and NH3 in brine will produce sodium bicarbonate solid (fired to give sodium carbonate for soap, pottery etc with loss of 1/2 CO2). The ammonia can be recycled , so that apart from the initial energy expenditure in creating it from N2 and H2 by the Haber process it should run with fairly low energy input. I don’t know however what you do with the bicarbonate and of course there is no H2 produced .
    All carbon capture systems need surely to factor in the carbon footprint of the materials used (eg amines) in the capture process and the energy for that is usually from fossil fuel power stations – so you are generating CO2 in order to capture it .
    The advocates of sequestration seem to gloss over that as the commenters here have spotted in the case posted above.

  15. Credit: UNIST

    A recent study, affiliated with UNIST has developed a system that produces electricity and hydrogen (H2) while eliminating

    carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main contributor of global warming. <– Never Proven Assertion: BLUNT LIE

    Published This breakthrough has been led by Professor Guntae Kim in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST in collaboration with Professor Jaephil Cho in the Department of Energy Engineering and Professor Meilin Liu in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.

    In this work, the research team presented Hybrid Na-CO2 system that can continuously produce electrical energy and hydrogen through efficient CO2 conversion with stable operation for over 1,000 hr from spontaneous CO2 dissolution in aqueous solution.

    “Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies have recently received a great deal of attention for providing a pathway in dealing with global climate change,” says Professor Kim. <– Never Proven Assertion: BLUNT LIE

    “The key to that technology is the easy conversion of chemically stable CO2 molecules to other materials.” He adds, “Our new system has solved this problem with CO2 dissolution mechanism.”

    Much of human CO2 emissions are absorbed by the ocean and turned into acidity. <– Never Proven Assertion: BLUNT LIE

    The researchers focused on this phenomenon and came up with the idea of melting CO2 into water to induce an electrochemical reaction. If acidity increases, the number of protons increases, which in turn increases the power to attract electrons. If a battery system is created based on this phenomenon, electricity can be produced by removing CO2. <– Never Proven Assertion: BLUNT LIE

    Their Hybrid Na-CO2 System, just like a fuel cell, consists of a cathode (sodium metal), separator (NASICON), and anode (catalyst). Unlike other batteries, catalysts are contained in water and are connected by a lead wire to a cathode. When CO2 is injected into the water, the entire reaction gets started, eliminating CO2 and creating electricity and H2. At this time, the conversion efficiency of CO2 is high at 50%.

    “This hybrid Na-CO2 cell, which adopts efficient CCUS technologies, not only utilizes CO2 as the resource for generating electrical energy but also produces the clean energy source, hydrogen,” says Jeongwon Kim in the Combined M.S/Ph.D. in Energy Engineering at UNIST, the co-first author for the research.

    In particular, this system has shown stability to the point of operating for more than 1,000 hours without damage to electrodes. The system can be applied to remove CO2 by inducing voluntary chemical reactions.

    “This research will lead to more derived research and will be able to produce H2 and electricity more effectively when electrolytes, separator, system design, and electrocatalysts are improved,” said Professor Kim.###

    – Never Proven Assertions: BLUNT LIES –

    • This is a sad state of affairs and damning statement on the quality of academic researchers today in this field. 100% bullshit funded by South Korean public dollars.

  16. Nice process. But there is a little problem, just a little. To produce metalic sodium you need much more energy to expend than you can gain by burning coal. This process is an energy sink.
    And if your goal is sequestering CO2 then there are some more practical metods, but please, do not sequester CO2. CO2 is the most valuable part of the atmosphere. CO2 is life, it is potential oxigen.

    This articel is referenced by Eurekalert! So please, red alert. This process is nonsence. Nobody is able gain energy from CO2.

  17. The ALP in Australia, on the cusp of federal election success, is promoting H2 ‘manufacture’.
    The chief scientist is supposed to be working on this.
    We have abundant LNG and coal.
    Compressed hydrogen is such a dangerous product, as is liquid hydrogen.
    Industrial scale liquid sodium would go up with a bang if anything went wrong.
    Now a politician is trying to pick industries, a bad sign.
    He needs to listen to Bob Hawke and Bill Gates and go down the nuclear road, but as a retail politician
    and powerless against the Greens he wants us to go the H2 track.
    Whither Australia?
    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/labor-predicts-next-resource-boom-with-1-billion-hydrogen-pledge-20190122-p50swe.html

  18. When I got to the end of the first paragraph, after reading, “…while eliminating carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main contributor of global warming.”, it quickly became clear spending further time reviewing this garbage would be a colossal waste.

  19. And for every ton of coal burnt you get 7 tons of sodium bicarbonate. So for every unit train of coal delivered you need 7 unit trains to haul away the waste.

    Being a railfan I like trains and like to watch them so I consider this a brilliant idea.

    We just need some place to unload it.

  20. This paper is embarrassing in its stupidity. As other commenters above have observed, apparently the authors seem unacquainted with the Law of Conservation of Energy

  21. I find the paper Introduction amusing for some reason that I can’t quite put my finger on.

    “Many RESEARCHERS BELIEVE that Global Warming and Climate Change are the result of carbon dioxide generated by HUMAN ACTIVITIES OVER THE CENTURIES (Jenkinson, et. al., 1991, OBAMA, 2017)

    B. Obama, The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy, SCIENCE, 355 (2017) pp. 126-129

    I also can’t quite figure out how this differs from bubbling the carbon dioxide into water, the dumping in some Na, collecting the H2 produced, and letting the water evaporate from the sodium bicarbonate solution. Since the pioneering work of the Nobel Prize winner, obama, stimulated this research, it must be good.

  22. It never hurts to keep mentioning that a gallon of gasoline/diesel contains ~4 times the energy of a gallon of liquid H2. A gallon of LNG is about 3 times the energy density of H2. I have to say that engineering, which I thought was hard to make ‘lite’ like they have done in the arts to accommodate the ‘rights of all to a university education’ flood that engulfed universities. These people dont think like engineers.

  23. To those who are concerned that this process is a voracious user of energy, all you need are lots of lovely windmills to power it! Just think of all of those contracts for research and building these things, loads of money…. /sarc

  24. Any system that is designed primarily to prevent CO2 from entering the atmosphere is without merit.

  25. The statement near the end of the abstract caught my attention (emphasis on “voluntary”): “The system can be applied to remove CO2 by inducing voluntary chemical reactions. I went back to the illustration and asked what is NASICON? From omniscient WIKI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASICON is a material that can be a film or a glass membrane. Back to the statement. Metallic sodium? Check. Water? Check? Fragile membrane separating the two? Check. So what we have is a potential involuntary chemical reaction.

  26. We already have billions of free machines that turn carbon dioxide into glucose.

    We call them trees.

    • Funny that ,I too thought that plants find the CO2 very useful.
      And do an amazing job of storing energy ,all without any help from government funded experts.
      I guess one needs an modern university education to know for sure that this ain’t so.

  27. I’m surprised that as Chemical Engineers that they have forgotten the Laws of Thermodynamics. They’ve also incorrectly drawn their energy and mass balances around the system (as many have already alluded to so far). Perhaps if they’d gone the THE Ohio State University instead of GIT they’d know this. The best they can hope to achieve is a more efficient system; it’s impossible to get more energy out of the process than is input as that is akin to a perpetual motion machine. Since they are academics, they do not need to worry about the economics and industrial scale-up. But as long as there is free grant money from the EPA/DOE, what do they care?

  28. Notice they don’t mention the dissolution rate of that chunk of sodium. Another researcher who either failed thermodynamics and energy balances, or is woefully under-educated for the current position. Rule number one is you can’t get something for nothing. Rule number two is that entropy makes it so you can’t even break even.

    • At the end of the paper, in the Limitations section, they state that they cannot rule out this step is very slow due to the ceramic electrolyte.
      Which makes no sense.
      The membrane I think is the ceramic, and the electrolyte is organic.
      Everything about this setup is incredibly expensive and resource intensive…from the platinum electrodes, sodium metal anodes, sodium hydroxide in the reaction medium, and that electrolyte and membrane.
      Their big breakthrough appears to be that they have devised a way to keep the platinum from getting clogged up…and this appears maybe by using the sodium hydroxide in the aqueous solution.
      They state the process does not consume the anode, but to reconstitute it requires somehow putting it in seawater with it exploding and running electricity through it to pull sodium from the water.
      They say nothing about how to do this except that it is “easy”.

  29. Scientists turn carbon emissions into usable energy

    As pointed out already, this title is totally untrue. CO2 can not be turned into ‘usable energy’. What they do, is store CO2 as Na2CO3 using manufactured metallic sodium. That process in totality consumes energy, it does not produce energy. Any claims of net energy would be a frawd, as it would contain perpetual motion.

    That they get the title so wrong means they don’t know elementary chemistry.

  30. Full Paper here:

    https://www.cell.com/iscience/pdf/S2589-0042(18)30186-X.pdf

    Supplement here:

    https://ars.els-cdn.com/content/image/1-s2.0-S258900421830186X-mmc1.pdf

    Reportedly, Na is not consumed.

    In summary, we have devised hybrid Na-CO2 cell utilizing CO2 as a useful resource. This new system has
    three distinctive advantages. First, it uses a kinetically fast HER as a discharge reaction thanks to a spontaneous CO2 dissolution, enabling the provision of high current compared with the present aprotic system.
    Second, unlike conventional aprotic CO2 batteries, wherein solid products are clogged on the electrodes,
    this system can continuously produce gas-phase hydrogen during discharge without damaging the electrode. This ability enabled highly stable performance to be achieved over 1,000 hr. Third, the proposed system has the unprecedented great advantage of not regenerating CO2 while recycling Na metal through
    charging process. Therefore, this hybrid Na-CO2 cell truly fulfills the purpose of a real CCUS technology,
    as it consumes CO2 efficiently throughout the process. This novel system could potentially serve as a
    new CO2 utilization technology and a stepping stone for the future utilization of renewable energy
    technologies

    It also says Then, the electrochemical net equation is simply given as the oxidation of Na metal and the spontaneous evolution of hydrogen (Equation 5). And it says that it produces baking soda, which seems to imply Na is gradually used up.

    Energetics of “recycling Na through charging process” seems not to be discussed. If I missed it, please let me know.

    As others have commented, this seems much more costly than planting trees and shrubs, and growing crops.

    • I was just reading it more carefully and noticing their description in the text does not match the diagram at all.
      Yes, the key details seems to be “regenerated by charging”!
      But then what happens to the bicarbonate in solution?
      It sounds like they run it one way, in an insanely expensive battery, then run it backwards by recharging?
      This would imply that the CO2 is then regenerated.
      They say the sodium is the cathode in the text, but the anode is the source of electrons in a battery, and is very definitely consumed, unless the battery is recharged in which case the entire reaction is reversed.
      If you pull the sodium ions back out by recharging, the HCO3+ is not just gonna stay there by itself…every part of the reaction has to go the other way.

      • I see now.
        First, they do “mechanically recharge the battery by replacing the sodium anode”.
        The “recharging” process is done by “recycling” the removed anode, placing it in seawater, and applying electricity.
        So there goes the free electricity they got in the discharge phase.
        So they are left with sodium bicarbonate solution and acidified seawater!
        Unless maybe they get chorine gas somehow.
        Oh, BTW…that cathode appears to be ultrapure platinum.
        And the initial aqueous solution is not water, but a mixture of brine, distilled water, and sodium hydroxide.
        And pure CO2 is injected…it does not spontaneously draw CO2 from air as the article seems to imply.
        IOW…this is a non-scalable and incredibly expensive process, requiring multiple costly inputs, and leaving two solutions that must be dealt with.
        Sodium bicarbonate powder has value, but going from a solution of it to a powder takes energy.
        And then they create acidified brine to reconstitute the sodium anode.
        I am sure it takes a lot more power to recharge the plate than was gained.
        And how exactly do they put a sodium anode in salt water without it exploding?
        They do not say…they just state that since sodium is abundant in seawater, the sodium anode can be easily recycled

  31. This paper epitomizes the disdain that the AGW community has for the public. They really think that people are stupid enough to believe in their perpetual motion machine.

  32. I wouldn’t write off this process too quickly. Even if it has minimal use as an energy producer and as CO2 reduction it is interesting and may have other applications. I would not be averse to funding a little further research. At least until the process is fully understood. And it may slightly placate the CO2 is evil club.
    CO2 is definitely an advantage to plant growth and food production. It is possible it has some slight effect on atmospheric temperatures which may be detrimental or beneficial. It is also possible that rising CO2 will have some other previously undiscovered affect. Perhaps beneficial, perhaps not.
    Research is healthy if it can be divorced from the confirmation bias evident in almost all results reported in the popular press regarding climate.

    • The process is fully understood. They corrode sodium to generate electricity and convert CO2 to bicarbonate ion. They just “forget” to include the fact that we don’t have any sodium trees around here. More energy goes into refining the sodium than they can get out. Otherwise, they are violating the first and second laws of thermodynamics.

  33. Hmmm…
    “Their Hybrid Na-CO2 System, just like a fuel cell, consists of a cathode (sodium metal), separator (NASICON), and anode (catalyst). Unlike other batteries, catalysts are contained in water and are connected by a lead wire to a cathode.”

    The setup shown has the sodium metal as the anode, and is not a catalyst. A catalyst is not consumed in a reaction. But the anode in a battery is.
    The description I quoted here is either a typo, or they do not know what they are talking about, which seems unlikely but cannot be ruled out, given that they think making sodium metal and using it to make a battery for turning CO2 in baking soda solution.
    They state that CO2 must be injected into the water, and after 1000 hours it is “50% efficient”.
    Does this mean that after 1000 hours they managed to react half of the CO2 injected?
    In terms of money and energy, this setup is incredibly expensive, which most people associate with inefficiency.
    Apparently organic electrolytes are very expensive as well, and making nonflammable and stable ones has been a major impediment to making more efficient lithium ion batteries.

  34. While I know I shouldn’t,I really find the idea of Gang Green playing with large amounts of sodium metal to be a quite charming idea.
    Just add water.
    I think there is a TV show just for this kind of thing.
    “The science of stupid?”

  35. The activists hysterically concerned with stopping the use of fossil fuels will never embrace carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) technologies. The only energy sources they support are expensive and experimental “renewables.” We could make our electric grid completely non-coal generated* by building modern nuclear reactors.

    These activists don’t want to find ways to make greenhouse gas emissions less disruptive**. They reject any discussions regarding the cost of stopping fossil fuel use vs the cost of correcting any damage from fossil fuel use. They have one and only one solution in mind. They are dogmatic zealots and fanatics and tolerate no dissent.

    * The fracking revolution made the costs of natural-gas power generation competitive with coal with far fewer emissions. But the activists also want to ban fracking, despite the fact fracking is much more environmentally sound than coal mining.

    ** In my opinion, carbon-based greenhouse gas emissions, especially CO2, are generally harmless. The climate is not that sensitive to modest increases in the atmospheric CO2 levels.

  36. I have invented a novel process of producing unicorn energy. It’s still a work in progress but here’s what I’ve got so far:
    Step 1) Invent unicorns

    Sorry, that’s as far as I’ve gotten. More funding needed.

    • No, the science and chemistry behind it are real. it’s just that it is an incredibly inefficient method to generate electricity.
      If Climate Change were not the current rage, these guys wouldn’t have even gotten any money to study such a wasteful process.

      Critical thinkers have a saying, “Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.”

  37. Metallic sodium is produced by the electrolysis of molten sodium chloride. This product is expensive (about $ 150 per kilogram) and dangerous: we will not allow contact with water and air. Only an absolutely ignorant person in engineering and economics could suggest using metallic sodium in a device for trapping CO2 from the air. Needless to say, the idea of capturing CO2 itself is absurd.

    • Hydrogen fuel isn’t as dangerous as you’d imagine. It’s about as dangerous as compressed natural gas when stored in cylinders (of course it is much harder to contain in cylinders). The cylinders will not explode when punctured (they’ll rupture but no explosion). The internal compressed H2 must mix enough with surrounding air as it spews out. This will cause the combustible mixture to be well away from the tank if it ignites.
      Much of the fire from the Hindenburg was actually diesel fuel and burning outer skin which was lacquer coated.

  38. One day, we will laugh at these Climate Change Alarmists.
    I am reminded of the Blackadder series where Percy turns his hand to alchemy in order to make gold. he claims success and shows his work to Blackadder who immediately puts Percy right telling him what he has actually made is, purest Green.
    The Green movement and Climate Change Alarmists are devoted to the same mindset. They are constantly working on impossible dreams, claiming success yet they only manage to produce a splat of purest green.
    Google purest green and Blackadder.

    • So, is the notion to reduce GHG emissions an impossible dream? If let’s say the National Academy of Sciences statement ends up to be correct, there would be no way to meet their recommendations for something like 80% worldwide reductions by 2050?

      • Yes, the idea of reducing green house gas emissions is an impossible dream The prime green house gas is water vapour, how do they suggest reducing that? The second green house gas player is CO2 but it is produced naturally by biological processes, not to mention respiration by humans.
        It is also so beneficial to the environment,why anyone would actively want to reduce it is a mystery in the first place.
        Perhaps maintaining a steady as she goes attitude, does not garner any grant money from the tax payers so we have to be seen to be doing something, no matter how pointless it all is..

  39. Oh my gosh. I am an electrochemist. I’ve never seen Snip in my field like this before. Despite the fact that you only get an equivalent of water for the CO2 (a “stronger greenhouse gas”), even despite the fact of enormous need of energy to make sodium, it’s all garbage. in the picture Na is anode (which material is the cathode, Li?), it appears in the description as a cathode). The diffusion of Na ions is funny. A dalton element does not work that way. There is no diffusion through ions, so it builds up an electronic potential. This snip uses the same tricks as the cold Fusion guys. (Googlag Rossi). Pls. excuse,my hasty poor denglish.

    stob, we don’t allow profanity on the site. Mod

    • sry for my profanity. germans speak and think like this. i cant promise this will never happen again, but i will try. i guess the most of you will know, which word i was using.

  40. CTM,

    Could we please have a hiatus, or better yet a permanent ban, on any “News” claiming to convert CO2 into fuel, or hydrogen, or gasoline, or any energy source whatsoever?

    Can you burn the ashes in your fireplace? No you cannot, already burned, all the energy has already been taken out.

    There have been dozens of these articles here on WUWT, each more foolish than the last.

    Enough already!!!

  41. The only current applicable application I can see for this is for manufacturing Hydrogen for rocket fuel on Mars. Assuming it is possible and economically viable to manufacture the sodium metal on the red planet. And electricity as a by product to the entire process. But it will take a lot of energy to ‘mine’ and manufacture the sodium metal cathode on Mars. Since Mars had ancient oceans, it isn’t unreasonable to expect to find enough salt to manufacture the sodium metal. The question is whether this process would be simplistic enough and cheaper than just manufacturing hydrogen using electricity, assuming we can generate electricity in enough quantity somehow on Mars to manufacture hydrogen for rocket fuel.

    Total speculation on my part regarding viability on Mars, but I don’t see an application on Earth, unless the sodium metal was used in say an electric train or bus, and generated hydrogen on demand from a tank of water. There is a lot of salt on our planet, but not sure if manufacturing sodium metal from salt makes economic sense for domestic use here. Having read the article and all the comments, it doesn’t appear to make sense here on Earth just because the energy input to manufacture the sodium metal is more costly than just using that same energy in the first place.

Comments are closed.