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New Carbon Conversion Tech Could Boost Net-Zero Initiative

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The Ames Laboratory at Iowa State University has unveiled a new hybrid catalyst that converts carbon dioxide to ethylene in one pot. The catalyst was developed by scientists at the Ames National Laboratory, Iowa State University, the University of Virginia, and Columbia University.this catalyst is carbon dioxide (CO2) as feedstock for efficient electricity-powered ethylene production.

The team’s report was published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Ethylene is a general-purpose chemical used to manufacture a wide range of products from plastics to antifreeze. Large-scale production of ethylene is energy-intensive and heavily dependent on fossil resources. Electrocatalyst production of ethylene from CO2 emerging as a promising method. The new catalyst is composed entirely of earth-abundant materials such as nickel and copper, requiring less energy for chemical reactions.

Ames Lab scientist Long Qi explained how the catalyst works.

Atomically dispersed nickel anchored on nitrogen-aggregated carbon (NAC) functions to catalyze CO2 For CO at low voltage and high current. This catalyst is effective over a wide voltage range, and effectiveness at higher currents means higher CO production rates.

Mr Qi said: So we use his second catalyst, which is a copper nanowire. Combining the two, he provides a highly selective process with efficiencies of up to 60% from CO.2 Ethylene in one pot. “

Another important aspect of the catalyst is its structure. Wenyu Huang, an Ames Institute scientist and Iowa State University professor on the team, noted that the catalyst’s porous structure enhances its effectiveness. “Our catalyst has an ordered mesoporous structure that benefits from mass transfer,” he said. “Because it is very porous, there is a very large surface area to expose many nickel active sites, and our catalyst is very effective for CO.2 Reduction to CO”

For Huang, the most exciting aspect of the research was how the team combined two catalysts to streamline the process. “We are basically a unique combination of two of the best catalysts that work together to connect CO.2 It’s the reaction to CO in one system and the reaction from CO to ethylene,” he said.

Qi stressed the importance of using CO2 As a raw material for this reaction, to meet the global need to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.He explained that this process can use CO2 Recovered from chemical or industrial processes or from air capture. “And we can do this without precious metals like nickel, copper, carbon and nitrogen to enable large-scale industrial use,” Qi said. It has the potential to eliminate the use of fossil resources.”


It is likely that someday there will be a race for the supply of CO2. This is another breakout technology that utilizes CO2. In December there were reports of flue gas traps installed to produce ethylene.

Missing from the press release is a source of hydrogen. The abstract of this paper shows that the catalyst works in an alkaline flow cell, but this probably requires water replenishment.

However, as we have already mentioned, ethylene is a commodity chemical used in thousands of tons almost everywhere. Still, a diversified supply looks like a good thing. As of now, ethylene is rarely scarce or particularly expensive. It would be interesting to see which ones are actually economically competitive and gaining market share.

By Brian Westenhaus via New Energy and Fuel

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