Innovation That Matters

| Photo source The National University of Singapore

Turning industry emissions into high-value chemicals

Sustainability

Could this innovative system revolutionise the production of plastics and polymers?

Spotted: Over the last few years, industry has accounted for around 3 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions annually. One way to cut that figure is with carbon capture technologies that can trap and transform waste flue gas into new products. The issue is, this normally demands high-purity CO2, which requires an additional energy-intensive purification step. Scientists in Singapore hope to change that. 

The research team, based at the National University of Singapore (NUS), has developed an innovative cost-effective technique to convert waste carbon dioxide into high-value chemical feedstocks. The new method uses a nickel catalyst and acidic electrolyte to electrochemically reduce the CO2 from flue gas with an efficiency rate above 99 per cent.

Developing the method further, the researchers also gradually layered this catalyst onto a copper surface and found that the system limits unwanted side reactions that often happen due to the presence of oxygen impurities, helping to make the conversion rate more efficient. 

The technology allows CO2 to be converted into multi-carbon (C2+) products such as ethylene and ethanol, which are essential compounds used in plastics, polymers, and detergents. According to the researchers, the technique could be adapted to create other valuable chemicals – like acetate, which is used in adhesives, and propanol, an essential building block in disinfectants.  

Springwise has spotted other advancements in carbon capture tech including one that captures CO2 from ambient air and another that removes it from the ocean

Written By: Jessica Wallis and Matilda Cox

Email: lumyw@nus.edu.sg

Website: nus.edu.sg

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