C2CNT’s comprehensive solution to global warming by the electrolysis of carbon dioxide (CO2) to a valuable product, is now one of ten finalists competing in the international Carbon XPRIZE contest.

The Carbon XPRIZE challenges competitors to convert CO2 emissions into valuable products, with the purpose of identifying the most scalable technologies to unlock massive CO2 reductions and economic opportunities.

At George Washington University, C2CNT discovered the inexpensive transformation of the greenhouse CO2 into a widely useful and highly valued product. In the C2CNT process, CO2 is directly transformed to hollow nanofibers, ‘carbon nanotubes,’ products with remarkable properties of conductivity, nanoelectronics, higher capacity batteries, flexibility, with greater strength than steel and widespread use as carbon composites. The conversion of CO2 to pure carbon nanotubes provides the most compact form to capture CO2 and mitigate climate change.

The market for carbon composites provides lighter weight alternatives to metals, and is used today in the Boeing Dreamliner, high end sport cars, and athletic equipment. The market is experiencing an explosive growth comparable to the historical start of the plastic industry. Previously, carbon nanofibers were made by expensive processes such as chemical vapour deposition or polymer pulling and could not be made from CO2.

“Our C2CNT team is rapidly scaling-up our new chemistry which directly converts CO2 at high rate to carbon nanotubes using low cost materials. The C2CNT team is committed to reversing the rapid anthropogenic build-up of greenhouse gases, and perceive CO2 not as a pollutant, but rather CO2 as a useful resource. We are working to incentivise CO2 removal from the power, industry and transportation sectors by rapidly and efficiently transforming CO2 into a valuable product,” the company stated.

The process

In C2CNT, CO2 is bubbled into, and dissolved in a molten carbonate bath. The CO2 is split by electrolysis at electrodes immersed in the molten bath into oxygen (O2) at the electrode called the anode, and into carbon, as pure carbon nanotubes, at the electrode called the cathode.

The competition is sponsored by NRG Energy and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance. XPRIZE is an organiser of technological innovation contests including one that awarded $10m for the first private organisation to launch a manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks.