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Newcastle Scientists Develop CO2 Conversion Process
  UK

Friday, Apr 25, 2008
Source:CARBONCAPTUREJOURNAL
Article Type: Cited


Scientists at Newcastle University have developed a highly energy-efficient method of converting CO2 into chemical compounds known as cyclic carbonates.

The Newcastle University team, led by Michael North, Professor of Organic Chemistry, estimates that the technology has the potential to use up to 48 million tonnes of waste CO2 per year, reducing the UK's emissions by about four percent.

Cyclic carbonates are widely used in the manufacture of products including solvents, paint-strippers, biodegradable packaging, as well as having applications in the chemical industry.

Cyclic carbonates also have potential for use in the manufacture of a new class of efficient anti-knocking agents in petrol. Anti-knocking agents make petrol burn better, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 emissions.

The conversion technique relies upon the use of a catalyst to force a chemical reaction between CO2 and an epoxide, converting waste CO2 into this cyclic carbonate, a chemical for which there is significant commercial demand.

The reaction between CO2 and epoxides is well known, but it required a lot of energy, needing high temperatures and high pressures to work successfully. The current process also requires the use of ultra-pure CO2, which is costly to produce.

The Newcastle team has succeeded in developing an exceptionally active catalyst, derived from aluminum, which can drive the reaction necessary to turn waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, vastly reducing the energy input required.

"To satisfy the current market for cyclic carbonates, we estimate that our technology could use up to 18 million tonnes of waste CO2 per year, and a further 30 million tonnes if it is used as an anti-knocking agent."

The technique has been proven to work successfully in the lab. Professor North and his team are currently carrying out further lab-based work to optimize the efficiency of the technology, following which they plan to scale-up to a pilot plant.

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