Using carbon dioxide directly from impure sources could be immensely beneficial for the green economy.
We are now a step closer to making that a reality, thanks to a team of researchers who has developed a novel compound that allowed them to harvest carbon dioxide from smokestacks and use it to make commercially valuable chemicals.
"We've taken a big step toward solving a crucial challenge associated with the hoped-for circular carbon economy by developing an effective catalyst," said lead researcher Kyriakos Stylianou of the OSU College of Science, in a press release. In case you don't know, a catalyst can be defined as a substance that boosts the rate of a chemical reaction without itself undergoing any permanent chemical change.
The researchers have found that the novel metal organic framework loaded with a common industrial chemical called propylene oxide can catalyze the formation of cyclic carbonates while removing carbon dioxide from factory flue gases, according to the study published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
This is important as cyclic carbonates are a class of compounds that has a lot of industrial interest: This colorless and odorless liquid can be utilized as a polar, aprotic solvent. The findings reveal that useful items like battery electrolytes and pharmaceutical precursors may be made using the same technique that is used to clean pollutants from manufacturing facilities, bolstering green-economy activities.
The researchers have developed the three-dimensional metal organic framework, or MOF, based on lanthanides, which are a family of soft, silvery-white metals used in everything from night vision goggles to cigarette lighter flints. The novel framework can now be used to catalyze cyclic carbonate production from biogas, which is a mixture of carbon dioxide, methane, and other gases produced by the decomposition of organic matter.
"These are very exciting findings," Stylianou said. "And being able to directly use carbon dioxide from impure sources saves the cost and energy of separating it before it can be used to make cyclic carbonates, which will be a boon for the green economy."