Conjuring chemical cornucopias out of thin air

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Science  11 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6253, pp. 1160
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6253.1160

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Liquid fuels aren't the only things made from oil. Chemical companies start with oil to make thousands of different products, including plastics and pharmaceuticals. Most of these other commodities are worth more than fuels. So researchers and companies are also working to use renewable energy to convert CO2 and water into a wide variety of these products as well. A company in Iceland, for example, is using the island's abundant geothermal energy to make the electricity needed to convert CO2 and water into methanol, a starting material for a wide variety of fuels and chemicals. And researchers in the United States have just come up with a new process to use sunlight to make high-strength and light carbon nanofibers, which are used in consumer products and building materials.