New technology creates carbon-neutral chemicals from scratch

It is possible to capture carbon dioxide (CO2) from the surrounding atmosphere and reusing it into useful chemicals typically made from fossil fuels, according to a University of Surrey study.

Technology could allow scientists to capture CO2 and transform it into useful chemicals such as carbon monoxide and synthetic natural gas in one circular process.

Dr Melis Duyar, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey, commented:

“Capturing CO2 ambient air and transforming it directly into useful products is exactly what we need to approach carbon neutrality in the chemical sector. This could very well be a milestone in the steps needed for the UK to reach its 2050 net zero targets.

“We need to move away from our current thinking about how we produce chemicals, as current practices rely on fossil fuels which are unsustainable. With this technology, we can provide chemicals with a much lower carbon footprint and consider replacing fossil fuels with carbon dioxide. and renewable hydrogen as building blocks for other important chemicals.”

The technology uses patent-pending switchable dual-function materials (DFMs), which capture carbon dioxide on their surface and catalyze the conversion of the captured CO2 directly in chemicals. The “switchable” nature of DFMs stems from their ability to produce multiple chemicals depending on operating conditions or the composition of the added reagent. This makes the technology sensitive to variations in chemical demand as well as the availability of renewable hydrogen as a reactant.

Dr. Duyar continued:

“These results are a testament to the research excellence at Surrey, with ever-improving facilities, in-house funding programs and a culture of collaboration.”

Loukia-Pantzechroula Merkouri, postgraduate student leading this research at the University of Surrey, added:

“Not only does this research demonstrate a viable solution to the production of carbon-neutral fuels and chemicals, but it also offers an innovative approach to combat the ever-increasing CO2 emissions contributing to global warming. »

The study published in the journal Royal Society of Chemistry At the nanoscalewas made possible by the Surrey Doctoral College Scholarship Award.

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Material provided by University of Surrey. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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