Nanotechnology trial shows route to carbon negative cars

Carbon dioxide can be used to make batteries for electric vehicles, US scientists have shown

Experiments show how electric vehicles could become a carbon negative way to travel (Pic: Flickr/Paul Krueger)

Experiments show how electric vehicles could become a carbon negative way to travel (Pic: Flickr/Paul Krueger)

By Megan Darby

Cars could become carbon negative with a technology developed by American scientists.

Researchers from Vanderbilt and George Washington universities have shown how to convert carbon dioxide from the air into carbon nanotubes for use in batteries.

Those batteries can run electric vehicles, according to their study published in the journal ACS Central Science.

“This unlocks this whole space of research,” said co-author and mechanical engineer Cary Pint in a video explainer. “Now you can take CO2 and use it to make products to overcome big challenges in technology.”

Carbon dioxide taken from smokestacks or the atmosphere could make up around 40% of a lithium-ion battery, Pint added.

As well as demonstrating a way to clean up transport, the trials suggest carbon dioxide has an economic value. It is worth US$18 a kilogram as a battery material, the researchers estimate.

“Imagine a world where every new electric vehicle or grid-scale battery installation would not only enable us to overcome the environmental sins of our past, but also provide a step toward a sustainable future for our children,” said Pint.

“Our efforts have shown a path to achieve such a future.”

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