New technologies capture CO2 and turn it into useful chemicals

Global warming is increasing at an alarming rate as carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have reached levels never before experienced by our species. Efforts are ongoing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and significant reductions in carbon emissions after 2030.

A new study from the University of Surrey has unveiled the new technology that will allow scientists to both capture CO2 from the surrounding atmosphere and convert it into useful chemicals such as carbon monoxide and synthetic natural gas in a circular process.

“Capturing CO2 from ambient air and converting it directly into useful products is exactly what we need to move towards 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.” said dr Melis Duyar, Lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Surrey.

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

The new technology uses patent-pending switchable Dual Function Materials (DFMs) that capture carbon dioxide on their surface and directly catalyze the conversion of captured CO2 into chemicals. The “switchable” nature of DFMs stems from their ability to produce multiple chemicals depending on operating conditions or the composition of the reactant added. This allows the technology to respond to fluctuations in chemical demand as well as the availability of renewable hydrogen as a reactant.

“These results are a testament to research excellence in Surrey, with continually improving facilities, internal funding systems and a collaborative culture,” dr Duyar continued.

“This research not only demonstrates a viable solution for the production of CO2-neutral fuels and chemicals, but also offers an innovative approach to combating the ever-increasing CO2 emissions that contribute to global warming,” added Loukia-Pantzechroula Merkouri, a PhD student leading this research at the University of Surrey.

Magazine reference:

  1. Loukia-Pantzechroula Merkouri, Tomas Ramirez Reina, and Melis S. Duyar. Feasibility of switchable dual-function materials as a flexible technology for CO2 capture and utilization and proof of passive direct air capture. nanoscale, 2022; DOI: 10.1039/D2NR02688K


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