July 21, 2024

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Cheap materials help convert carbon dioxide into a useful raw material

Cheap materials help convert carbon dioxide into a useful raw material

Greenhouse gas company2 It can be converted into carbon monoxide, an important raw material for the chemical industry, using an inexpensive material. The substance acts as a so-called catalyst, which is a substance that can speed up a chemical reaction without using it itself. Which Reports of a group of chemists This Thursday Sciences.

CO conversion2 Carbon monoxide (CO) at an industrial scale is one step in the energy transition, says Petra de Jong, professor of catalysis and materials for sustainable energy at Utrecht University, who was not involved in the study. To stop global warming, humans must stop using fossil fuels. “That’s why wind and solar energy are being expanded so much to produce green electricity,” says de Jong. Large-scale hydrogen production, using green electricity, is also an important step in the transition process. Hence it is important to collect carbon dioxide (which is captured from factories).2 It can be converted to CO. “Carbon monoxide is already used in industry to form longer carbon chains in reaction with hydrogen, which then acts as a fuel,” says de Jong, who received a €3.5 million European ERC grant three weeks ago to develop catalysts that release carbon dioxide.2 It can efficiently convert hydrogen into sustainable fuel.

“We still need carbon-based fuels,” says de Jong. According to her, the difference with fossil fuels is that the chain becomes circular: the idea is to reduce carbon dioxide2 They could soon be extracted from air or water and turned into fuel. When they are used, carbon dioxide is produced2which then takes it out of the air again.

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Carbon monoxide is also a raw material for chemical industries, for example for the production of methanol, which is one of the most important chemical building blocks for plastics, paints, resins, building materials, etc.

500 continuous hours

In their now published article, the chemists describe the material they used – molybdenum carbide (Mo2c) – as “cheap, active, highly selective and stable”. De Jongh particularly emphasizes the last two qualities. Ideally, the catalyst controls the conversion of carbon dioxide2 So only carbon dioxide is produced. But the chemists have not succeeded so far. During the conversion of CO2 At low temperatures (below 600°C) they often see a lot of methane (CH4) to arise. This is not the case with molybdenum carbide. The authors therefore call it “highly selective.” The substance has proven laboratory stability by not losing any of its effectiveness for 500 consecutive hours.

The authors also try to explain exactly how the molecule works, but primarily offer suggestions. “They don’t know exactly. That makes their discovery a lucky chance in the first place,” de Jong says.

She also has a comment on the study. CO conversion2 In carbon dioxide occurs at high temperature and low pressure. While many existing industrial processes that use carbon dioxide operate at low temperatures and high pressure. De Jong: “They seem to be a bit far from industrial application.”