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Op-Ed: Converting CO2 into electricity — Too big to miss

Don’t be too surprised to see betting agencies getting involved in questions like this:

“Would you like to make billions on new tech?” is the bet.

50 to 1 odds on “I don’t know” as the response.

Electricity generation from renewable sources was over 50 percent of the total in 2023 for the first time, while coal's share dropped to 26 percent from 34 percent
Electricity generation from renewable sources was over 50 percent of the total in 2023 for the first time, while coal's share dropped to 26 percent from 34 percent - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File MARIO TAMA
Electricity generation from renewable sources was over 50 percent of the total in 2023 for the first time, while coal's share dropped to 26 percent from 34 percent - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File MARIO TAMA

This new tech is a first hint of a massive game changer. Researchers at the University of Queensland have created an incredibly useful and highly evolvable way of managing CO2 at the molecular level.  

This is different. Something had to go right sometime. Converting CO2 into electricity at nanoscale levels is so useful it’s effectively a must-do technology. The basic model (see video and source news article here) is almost self-explanatory.

Conversion of CO2 into something useful isn’t all that new. Plants have been doing it for hundreds of millions of years. Just not commercially.

This new tech is about as useful as photosynthesis. It’s a way of managing carbon, offsetting costs, and delivering scalable power sources. Its at the embryonic stage at the moment, but the University of Queensland researchers have proof of concept and a lot of room for development.

If it works at nanoscale, it can probably be upsized to micro and therefore to consumer-scale tech. Efficiency is the key. Nanoscale is an exceptionally demanding scale. It has to work with practically any extraneous environmental influence, In this case, it does.

The idea may sound simple, but the tech isn’t. Durability, reliability, capacity for electricity generation, and simply integrating it to a power system are all fundamental.

Given the vast amounts of CO2 so thoughtfully donated to the world, it’s also an essential type of tech. Power is in high demand, and costs are insane. The illusion of making money doesn’t help. Sure, you make more money, but that money instantly evaporates when you drive up everyone else’s costs.

It’s not the tech nor the idea that are the issues. It’s the moribund sector. This sector refuses to acknowledge new profitable options for itself. The energy sector has been so pampered for so long that cost realities are now getting critical. A lot of the cost of living increases have their roots in baseline costs like power.

Check this out as an example of awareness of anything:

Years ago, I was doing an article for a mining company. They wanted an idea for the article. I suggested, “Carbon, the unknown resource”. I meant all the other things you can do with carbon other than poisoning the planet.

They came back and said, “No, we only do coal and oil.”

“Ahh… Yeah”, I said helpfully. They didn’t even know what the idea was.

You need to understand the sheer scope of the apparent ignorance in the carbon sector. This ignorance is highly selective. It’s also costing the coal and oil sectors billions in their refusal to consider, let alone take up new technologies.

They make Trump look like Einstein.

However innovative, however useful, however cost-effective, however potentially profitable, the sector is famous for its immovable insistence on obsolete uses for carbon.

This new tech is a good workaround for just about anything that uses electricity. Humans exhale CO2. You could simply breathe on whatever wearable tech you have to power it up. Possible applications are endless.

A lot of current tech uses way too much power. Crypto is a case in point. It’s energy-inefficient by definition. It drains grids. It helps ensure those blackouts everyone loves so dearly.

Any simple, efficient solution is likely to be a major asset in this cockamamie, priorities-scrambled, system.  Why not convert CO2 into something useful?

Watch this space. The IP, the applications, and the evolutions of this idea will be a template for nanotechnology at the very least. Also, watch and see who gets this idea as a broad-based approach to CO2.

Don’t be too surprised to see betting agencies getting involved in questions like this:

“Would you like to make billions on new tech?” is the bet.

50 to 1 odds on “I don’t know” as the response.

Tech is such fun.  

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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