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article imageNew way of breaking down carbon dioxide invented

By Tim Sandle     Apr 13, 2017 in Environment
Amsterdam - A new catalyst which provides an environmental solution has been invented. The catalyst can convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. This provides a sustainable solution to dealing with the greenhouse gas.
So far the catalyst has only been used on the laboratory scale. However, if the device can be commercially scaled up it should provide a practical way for converting carbon dioxide into useful chemicals and minimize the impact on the environment.
Carbon dioxide is a trace gas in the Earth’s atmosphere and it functions to trap heat. A long-established environmental concern is with the level of carbon dioxide produced from human activities and the impact this is having on the planet’s climate in relation to global warming. Increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have strengthened the absorption and emission of infrared radiation leading to a rise in the average global temperature since the mid-20th century. Carbon dioxide exerts a larger overall warming influence than other atmospheric gases and it has a long atmospheric lifetime (measured in hundreds to thousands of years). This means that practical solutions are required to limit the amount of gas passed into the atmosphere.
The catalyst has been developed at the Universiteit van Amsterdam by research teams led by Edwin Gnanakumar and Shiju Raveendran. The researchers have developed a catalyst that can efficiently convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide under relatively mild conditions. The collected carbon monoxide can subsequently be converted to a number of common hydrocarbons, based on current technology, and used for industrial processing.
The way to do this, with the new catalyst, was a serendipitous discovery, as Dr. Raveendran explains in a research note: “It was an accidental discovery. We were experimenting for a different product, but the catalyst turned out to be highly selective for carbon dioxide, better than any reported ones.”
Accidental or not, the new catalyst can be prepared in a straightforward way and it is relatively inexpensive to manufacture. The device can convert carbon dioxide at ambient pressure and low temperatures. Further tests, examining the longer-term life of the catalyst that when it is placed in a flow reactor the catalyst remains active. This outcome means the catalyst shows promise for scale-up for applications like industrial flue gas conversion, where large volumes of gas require processing.
The research was supported by the European research project Catalytic Processes for Innovative Technology Application. The device has yet to be described in a peer reviewed journal.
More about carbon dioixde, Carbon, Global warming, Environment
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