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Question about CO.

  1. Oct 17, 2012 #1
    Is there any known way, however expensive or inconvenient, to break CO down into elemental carbon and oxygen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2012 #2


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    Could you ionize it using electricity?
  4. Oct 17, 2012 #3


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    Last edited: Oct 17, 2012
  5. Oct 17, 2012 #4
    having a metal surface helps too.
  6. Oct 19, 2012 #5
    CO has the strongest bond of any known (or possible) molecular compound -- stronger even than nitrogen gas. Breaking it into elements requires extreme temperatures. I am a little surprised that it can be achieved with temperatures as low as 2000 K.

    The molecule can be broken down by sequestration of the oxygen; the crystallization energy for gaseous carbon to graphite, and the combustion energy for many metals to oxides would provide driving forces that, taken together, could easily overcome the very strong bonding in carbon monoxide.
  7. Oct 19, 2012 #6


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    You are right, this is difficult in one step, but
    CO disproportionates already at relatively low temperatures into C and CO2, although this requires some catalysator, as CO is thermodynamically unstable with respect to this disproportionation already at normal temperature. Hence generation of C is the trivial part. On the other hand, CO2 disproportionates at higher temperatures into CO and O2. Taken together this seems to me a perfectly viable cycle to decompose CO into C and O2.
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