60 seconds on... nanoporous graphene for superconductors

Materials World magazine
1 Jan 2015

What is it? 

A new chemical reaction between magnesium, zinc and CO2 that can be used to synthesise nanoporous graphene for supercapacitors.

Who is involved?

Chemists and engineers at Oregon State University College of Science and Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of South Florida and the National Energy Technology Laboratory, USA.

What inspired the work?

Finding a use for the excess amounts of atmospheric CO2. The scientists used this to create energy storage devices.

How does it work?

Mixtures of magnesium and zinc are heated to a high temperature in the presence of a flow of CO2, to produce a metallothermic reaction. The reaction converts the elements into metal oxides and nanoporous graphene, which can then be used to conduct heat and electricity. The metal oxides can also be recycled back into metallic forms.

What could this technology replace?

The supercapacitor will provide fast energy storage for applications in consumer electronics and heavy industry – including forklifts and cranes – as well as capturing energy that may otherwise be wasted. Other methods of graphene production use corrosive and toxic chemicals, and this technology could replace those systems.