Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered a new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that is causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products.

The chemical process which they have developed produces nanoporous graphene, a form of carbon with an ordered atomic and crystalline structure, that is used in supercapacitors.

The material has an enormous specific surface area of about 1,900 square meters per gram. Because of that, it has an electrical conductivity at least 10 times higher than the activated carbon now used to make commercial supercapacitors, which are used in everything from heavy industry to consumer electronics.

The chemical process used by the researchers involves heating a mixture of magnesium and zinc metals to a high temperature in the presence of a flow of carbon dioxide to produce a controlled “metallothermic” reaction. This reaction converts the elements into their metal oxides and the nanoporous graphene. The metal oxides can be recycled back into their metallic forms.