WWU student discovers way to break down carbon dioxide

A Western Washington University graduate student has had his research into a new method for breaking down a harmful greenhouse gas published in the journal Inorganic Chemistry.

Zach Thammavongsy of Bellevue said he has discovered a way to break down carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, turning a harmful greenhouse gas into a base material that can be used as a building block for fuels such as methanol, according to a university announcement.

“This is a big breakthrough,” Thammavongsy said, in a press release. “Anything that we can do to lessen the impact of CO2 on our planet, however small it may seem at the time, is incredibly important.”

Thammavongsy’s method involves using earth-abundant metals and elements such as iron and silicon to strip away carbon dioxide’s extra oxygen molecule. He began his research while he was an undergraduate student at WWU.

Thammavongsy’s research can be seen in Inorganic Chemistry, which is a research journal of the American Chemistry Society, at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ic3015404.

For more information on the research, contact John Gilbertson, an assistant professor of chemistry at WWU, at john.gilbertson@wwu.edu.

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