A new study performed by the University of Surrey has shown that Carbon dioxide (CO2) can be captured from the encircling atmosphere and reprocessed into beneficial chemicals generally made from fossil fuels.
The technology could enable researchers to capture CO2 and convert it into beneficial chemicals like synthetic natural gas and carbon monoxide in one circular process.
Capturing CO2 from the surrounding air and directly converting it into useful products is exactly what we need to approach carbon neutrality in the chemicals sector. This could very well be a milestone in the steps needed for the UK to reach its 2050 net-zero goals.
Dr Melis Duyar, Senior Lecturer, Chemical Engineering, University of Surrey
Dr. Duyar added, “We need to get away from our current thinking on how we produce chemicals, as current practices rely on fossil fuels which are not sustainable. With this technology we can supply chemicals with a much lower carbon footprint and look at replacing fossil fuels with carbon dioxide and renewable hydrogen as the building blocks of other important chemicals.”
The technology utilizes patent-pending switchable Dual Function Materials (DFMs) that have the potential to capture carbon dioxide on their surface and catalyze the conversion of captured CO2 into chemicals in a direct manner.
The so-called “switchable” nature of the DFMs comes from their potential to generate several chemicals based on the operating conditions or the composition of the reactant that has been added. This makes the technology flexible to changes in demand for chemicals as well as the availability of renewable hydrogen as a reactant.
Dr. Duyar stated, “These outcomes are a testament to the research excellence at Surrey, with continuously improving facilities, internal funding schemes and a collaborative culture.”
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.
Loukia-Pantzechroula Merkouri, Study Lead and Postgraduate Student, University of Surrey
Merkouri, L. P., et al. (2022) Feasibility of switchable dual function materials as a flexible technology for CO2 capture and utilization and evidence of passive direct air capture. Nanosacale. doi.org/10.1039/D2NR02688K.