Metals production is the largest industrial source of greenhouse gases, with steel the main culprit. Traditional methods of extracting iron from its ore require a carbon-based reductant and produce large quantities of CO2. Molten oxide electrolysis is a promising alternative, but until now it has required anode materials that are either consumable or prohibitively expensive. This paper reports the development of a new chromium-based aluminium alloy electrode that is relatively cheap and, thanks to its three-layered structure (metal oxide/mixed oxide/electrolyte), is protected from dissolution. This technology must now be scaled up and its long-term performance assessed.
- Iron production electrified (News & Views p324, doi: 10.1038/nature12102)
- A new anode material for oxygen evolution in molten oxide electrolysis (Letter p353, doi: 10.1038/nature12134)
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