Forget the laboratory, substances that can solve environmental problems by capturing carbon dioxide, decontaminating water and cleaning up pollutants can be easily created in a kitchen, a UNSW Sydney study shows.

In a paper published today in Nature Communications, UNSW chemical engineers shone a light on the mysterious world of liquid metals and their role as catalysts to speed up chemical processes using low amounts of energy.

"They can do this by using a combination of liquid metals like gallium, indium, bismuth and tin in alloys that can be melted under 300ºC on a cooktop or in an oven."

"Eutectic alloys are the mixes of metals that produce the lowest melting point at a particular combination," says Dr Tang.

Professor Kalantar-Zadeh says the specific mix ratio of eutectic substances produces the maximum natural chaos at the nano-level, which in turn brings the melting point down.

"This maximum chaos helps, when we solidify the liquid metals, to naturally produce so many defects in the material that the 'catalytic' activity is significantly enhanced," Professor Kalantar-Zadeh says.

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