Scientists Develop CO2 to Methanol Conversion


A researcher from the University of Alberta has reportedly created a process to convert carbon dioxide and glycerol into useful materials, including methanol for paints and coatings.

The university explains that while CO2 is a “major contributor to climate change,” it could potentially be converted into the chemical used in several industrial applications. Additionally, methanol could potentially be used as a method of transporting and storing hydrogen in liquid form.

The pair of procedures represent an important step forward in sustainability, said Yanet Rodriguez Herrero, adding “We’ve broken a barrier in terms of improving difficult conversion processes and making them more efficient.”

According to the university’s release, Herrero developed a process utilizing nanotechnology to prepare a stable catalyst that has the ability to repel water. This allows it to work well at low pressure and temperature, also making the conversion less energy-intensive and more economically efficient.

Once the process can be successfully scaled up for use by industry, it could mean direct utilization of large amounts of CO2 that has been captured and stored, said Aman Ullah, a professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences who supervised Herrero’s work.

The new method also reportedly “opens the door” for improving other catalytic chemical conversion processes that are deactivated by water, such as ammonia synthesis, Herrero noted.

“It is difficult to find catalytic supports that are thermally stable and water repellent. In achieving that, our process could be very useful to manufacturing other products such as ammonia and catalytic converters,” she said, adding that a patent application is underway for the new process.

In addition to methanol, Herrero has reportedly also developed a patented process to convert crude glycerol into monomers. The chemicals are used in creating polymers, synthetic substances with a wide range of uses such as making biopolymers.

The conversion process can also help the biodiesel industry address an emerging question, as production ramps up, of how to make use of the glycerol, Ullah noted.

“The industry is facing the dilemma, on the one hand, of how to meet a growing demand for biofuels, while also managing excessive crude glycerol so it doesn’t pose a threat to the environment,” he explained.

Collectively, all of the research results show promising benefits to the energy, hydrogen, biofuel, food and chemical industries, Ullah said.

“By potentially offering sustainable alternatives for creating value-added products, our processes provide a win-win situation economically and environmentally,” he added.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Alberta Innovates, and in-kind support from SBI BioEnergy Inc.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Carbon dioxide; Carbon footprint; Coating chemistry; Coating Materials - Commercial; Coatings; Coatings Technology; Coatings Technology; Coatings technology; Conversion coatings; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Latin America; North America; Paint; Program/Project Management; Recycled building materials; Research and development; Z-Continents

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