Artificial Intelligence Helps Researchers Up-Cycle Waste Carbon With Record Efficiency

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Researchers from U of T Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University are using electrolyzers like this one to convert waste CO2 into commercially valuable chemicals. Their latest catalyst, designed in part through the use of AI, is the most efficient in its class. Credit: Daria Perevezentsev / University of Toronto Engineering
Researchers at University of Toronto Engineering and Carnegie Mellon University are using artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate progress in transforming waste carbon into a commercially valuable product with record efficiency.
They leveraged AI to speed up the search for the key material in a new catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) into ethylene — a chemical precursor to a wide range of products, from plastics to dish detergent.
The resulting electrocatalyst is the most efficient in its class. If run using wind or solar power, the system also provides an efficient way to store electricity from these renewable but intermittent sources.
“Using clean electricity to convert CO2 into ethylene, which has a $60 billion global market, can improve the economics of both carbon capture and clean energy storage,” says Professor Ted Sargent, one of the senior authors on a new paper published on May 13, 2020, in Nature.
The new catalyst is an alloy of …

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