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Commercial use for CO2 as fuel explored by Bath University

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Written by:   | Posted 04-March-2013 9:44

Carbon dioxide could be the fuel of the future thanks to researchers in Bath. Experts at the University of Bath have discovered a new method of capturing carbon dioxide and converting it into useful chemicals.

The hope is that the process could be developed to help reduce greenhouse gasses and become an alternative to fossil fuels.

In recent years, as oil prices have risen and governments have become environmentally concerned, the well-documented 1920s Fischer-Tropsch process for the conversion of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide has been explored by researchers around the world.

However, the processes used to create the catalysts needed to convert carbon dioxide have been energy intensive and costly, and not suitable for use on a large scale.

Dr David Mattia, project lead from the university’s department of chemical engineering, said: “To date, methods have typically required the use of one catalyst to create the carbon support for the conversion process.

Then the first catalyst has to be flushed out, and replaced with the second catalyst for the Fischer-Tropsch process. This is time and energy intensive, so makes the whole method expensive.”

Dr Matthew Jones, co-author of the paper, added: “Our method is considerably more simple. We use the same catalyst at both stages, which means energy and time isn’t required to purify the carbon support and the process can take place far more quickly.

“This makes our process scaleable to a level where it could be used in industry and have a significant impact on the environment.”

The new method developed by the research team at Bath has been shown to work with both carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, and tests have found it to result in a more effective catalyst than previous alternatives.

The team now hopes to explore the use of waste heat from power plants to run the process.

The research was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies and Bath Ventures at the University of Bath.

 

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