Scientists Aim To Capture CO2 And Convert It Into Fuel Or Plastic

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It has always been expensive and complicated, making catalysts to convert carbon dioxide into useful industrial products – until now. A team from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) has developed a new technique that converts harmful CO2 emissions into chemical Lego-like building blocks to make products such as synthetic fuel and plastics.

The research, published in Advanced Energy Materials, was carried out in the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW, with the team hoping to use CO2 as a cleaner way to produce Syngas. Syngas is commonly produced through the use of natural gas. It’s chemically versatile and can be used to make a variety of materials and fuels. By using CO2 waste as a source, the scientists have come up with a scalable and cheaper means of production, while at the same time, reducing emissions.

The process begins with zinc oxide nanoparticles, which act as a catalyst for a chemical reaction. These are developed by using a technique called flame spray pyrolysis, which involves exposing zinc oxide to an open flame burning at 2,000°C (3,632°F). The team found that when CO2 was mixed with the resulting zinc oxide nanoparticles inside an electrolyzer, they could reduce the greenhouse gas to a mix of carbon monoxide and hydrogen known as synthesis gas, or Syngas. Read more…

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