Researchers win grant for developing method to transform carbon dioxide in atmosphere

A team of researchers won an $85,000 grant for developing a way to turn carbon dioxide into another material, according to a University release Monday.

Peter LaPuma, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health and Stuart Licht, a professor of chemistry, led a research team that won the Duke Renewable Energy Innovation Fund, an annual grant funding energy-related research projects, according to the release.

The researchers developed a cheap method to turn carbon dioxide into carbon nanotubes, tube-shaped material that is light but strong and can be used in a variety of different products like airplanes or bridges, the release said.

Licht said the team’s technology can make carbon dioxide useful rather than harming the environment and driving climate change.

“There is a wide and growing market for carbon nanotubes,” he said in the release. “[With this technology] carbon dioxide will become an in-demand resource instead of a greenhouse gas.”

Robb Caldwell, the president of Duke Energy Renewables, a renewable energy company that helps fund the grant, said in the release that GW researchers were advancing the progress of renewable energy through this project and others like it.

“We plan for the long term, and what we’re doing with George Washington University and this research is future-oriented,” he said in the release. “As a business we get caught up in the shorter term, but as a public utility and a large company we’ve got to think about the future.”

GW’s sustainability office oversees the grant and a panel made up of representatives from GW and Duke Energy Renewables selects the winners, the release said.

Last year, three GW researchers received the same award for various projects involving solar energy. Last year’s winners gave an update on their projects, which include a handbook for community solar panels, microgrid research and a study on a Duke Energy Renewables solar farm.

In 2014 GW partnered with American University and GW Hospital to buy more than half of its electricity from Duke Renewables solar farms.

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