Climate Changemakers is a series highlighting the extraordinary people on a $20 million quest to save the planet through carbon conversion. This guest post is written Team C2CNT, from Washington D.C. C2CNT is one of 27 semi-finalist teams competing in the $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE.
C2CNT is a comprehensive solution to climate change, a principal challenge facing the planet today. In this industrial age, massive quantities of greenhouse gases, principally carbon dioxide, have been released into our atmosphere through the combustion of fossil fuels to meet humankind's industrial, transportation and energy needs. These greenhouse gases trap infrared heat increasing the temperature of the planet (global warming) at an accelerating rate. Climate change causes species extinction. As many as half the species on the planet face extinction this century if climate change is not abated. Climate change is causing sea-level rise, which is already threatening disappearance of low-lying countries, glaciers and icebergs, along with causing interior flooding, drought, famine, disease, hurricanes, increased incidence and strength of tornados, communication, power and transportation disruptions, and causing wide-spread increasing economic cost to both developed and under developed countries throughout the world.
We’ve discovered the inexpensive transformation of the greenhouse carbon dioxide into a widely useful and highly valued product. In our C2CNT process, CO2 is directly transformed to hollow nanotubes, “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 carbon dioxide and mitigate climate change. In the C2CNT process, carbon dioxide is easily dissolved into carbonates, and electrochemically split at industrial rates and high yield into oxygen and the valuable carbon nanotube product. 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 vapor 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 buildup of greenhouse gases, and perceives CO2 not as a pollutant, but rather as a useful resource. We are working to incentivize CO2 removal from the power industry and transportation sectors by rapidly and efficiently transforming CO2 into a valuable product.