In an experiment to figure out how CO2 can be transformed to a fuel source, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory had accidentally discovered a catalyst that would do the conversion directly.

Science Alert said the scientists did an electrochemical process using tiny spikes of catalysts made of carbon, copper and nitrogen. After applying electric current of just 1.2 volts, the catalyst converted a solution of CO2 dissolved in water into ethanol, with a yield of 63 percent.

“We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” ORNL’s Adam Rondinone, lead author of the team’s study published in ChemistrySelect said in a statement released by Phys.org.

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