You are here

US university synthesises catalyst to turn waste CO2 into fuel

04th August 2014

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesised a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing the process closer to commercial viability

US university synthesises catalyst to turn waste CO2 into fuel
The new catalyst improves efficiency and lowers cost by replacing expensive metals like gold or silver in the reduction reaction

Amin Salehi-Khojin, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and his co-workers have developed a unique two-step catalytic process that uses molybdenum disulfide and an ionic liquid to “reduce”, or transfer, electrons to carbon dioxide in a chemical reaction.

The new catalyst improves efficiency and lowers cost by replacing expensive metals like gold or silver in the reduction reaction.

The study was published July 30 in the journal Nature Communications.

“With this catalyst, we can directly reduce carbon dioxide to syngas without the need for a secondary, expensive gasification process,” said Mohammad Asadi, UIC graduate student and co-first author on the paper.

In other chemical-reduction systems, the only reaction product is carbon monoxide. The new catalyst produces syngas, a mixture of carbon monoxide plus hydrogen. The high density of loosely bound, energetic d-electrons in molybdenum disulfide facilitates charge transfer, driving the reduction of the carbon dioxide, said Salehi-Khojin, principal investigator on the study.

“This is a very generous material,” said Salehi-Khojin. “We are able to produce a very stable reaction that can go on for hours.”

“In comparison with other two-dimensional materials like graphene, there is no need to play with the chemistry of molybdenum disulfide, or insert any host materials to get catalytic activity,” said Bijandra Kumar, UIC post-doctoral fellow and co-first author of the paper.

“In noble metal catalysts like silver and gold, catalytic activity is determined by the crystal structure of the metal, but with molybdeneum disulfide, the catalytic activity is on the edges,” said graduate student Amirhossein Behranginia, a coauthor on the paper.  “Fine-tuning of the edge structures is relatively simple. We can easily grow the molybdenum disulfide with the edges vertically aligned to offer better catalytic performance.”

The proportion of carbon monoxide to hydrogen in the syngas produced in the reaction can also be easily manipulated using the new catalyst, said Salehi-Khojin.

“Our whole purpose is to move from laboratory experiments to real-world applications,” he said. “This is a real breakthrough that can take a waste gas — carbon dioxide — and use inexpensive catalysts to produce another source of energy at large-scale, while making a healthier environment.”

Artem Baskin, Nikita Repnin, Davide Pisasale, Patrick Philips, Robert Klie, Petr Kral and Jeremiah Abiade of UIC; Brian Rose and Richard Haasch of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Wei Zhu of Dioxide Materials in Champaign, Illinois, are also coauthors on the paper.

 

Find out more at http://news.uic.edu/new-catalyst-converts-waste-carbon-dioxide-to-fuel

Got a news tip? Email news@oilandgastechnology.net