They develop a catalyst to convert CO2 into methane


Inspenet, November 3, 2023.

New method for CO2 conversion

Rice University scientists have designed copper catalysts with the purpose of increasing the rate of conversion of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into methane. While technologies for capturing carbon in the atmosphere are advancing, challenges remain in what to do with the carbon once captured.

In the lab of Rice University materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and his research team, they have devised a method to extract carbon from carbon dioxide and link it to hydrogen atoms, generating methane, a valuable resource for fuel and matter. industrial premium.

Soumyabrata Roy, a research scientist in Ajayan’s laboratory and lead author of the study, explained: “Electricity-driven carbon dioxide conversion can produce a wide variety of fuels and industrial feedstocks through different pathways. However, the conversion of carbon dioxide to methane involves an eight-step pathway that poses significant challenges for the selective and energy-efficient production of methane. “Overcoming these issues can help close the artificial carbon cycle at significant scales, and the development of efficient and affordable catalysts is a key step toward achieving this goal.”

The polymer templates, composed of alternating carbon and nitrogen atoms, contain microperforations that allow the copper atoms to adjust at various distances from each other. These catalysts assemble at room temperature in an aqueous environment, with copper atoms replacing metal ions in the polymer templates. In reactor tests, these catalysts enabled the conversion of carbon dioxide to methane in one half of the cell, while the other half generated oxygen from water.

The work carried out by Roy and his team resulted in one of the fastest and most efficient electrolysis methods for the conversion of carbon dioxide to methane, representing a significant advance both in terms of fundamental scientific knowledge and practical performance. This technology is emerging as a promising alternative for the deep storage of carbon dioxide in the soil, as opposed to attempts to increase CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Although the idea of ​​benefiting trees with more carbon dioxide has not gained political or media support, it remains a solid and attractive proposal for the community of biologists.

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