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Climate protection: CO2 turned into methanol

Climate protection: CO2 converted into methanol

Molybdenum disulfide under the scanning electron microscope. Credit: Vienna University of Technology

For reasons of climate protection, no carbon dioxide should be released into the atmosphere. Wherever the formation of carbon dioxide cannot be prevented, it must be captured and converted into other substances.

The best possible solution is to create fabrics that have value and can be sold. A new method has now been developed for this at the TU Wien (Vienna): Liquid methanol is made from CO using a special catalyst material of sulfur and molybdenum.2† The new technology has already been patented and, together with industrial partners, the process is now being scaled up to industrial scale.

Profit from waste gas

It is precisely where carbon dioxide occurs in maximum concentration, for example directly in the exhaust gas stream of large industrial installations, that it can be used most efficiently. The idea of ​​converting carbon dioxide into valuable products is not new. However, it is a difficult and complex task. sometimes CO2 must be pre-enriched and separated, leading to additional costs and energy input.

“Up to now, copper-based catalysts have often been used to convert carbon dioxide,” says Prof. Karin Föttinger of the Institute of Materials Chemistry at TU Wien. “However, they have the major disadvantage that they are not robust. If there are certain other substances in the exhaust stream in addition to carbon dioxide, for example sulphur, the catalytic converter quickly loses its activity. It is said that the catalytic converter is poisoned.”

Karin Föttinger and her research group therefore went in search of better material. “If you want to apply such methods not only in the laboratory but also on a large scale in industry, you need a catalyst that is perhaps a little less active, but robust, durable and reliable,” explains Föttinger. “You want to be able to process very ordinary industrial waste gases without pre-treatment.”

The winning formula: sulfur and molybdenum

The research team from TU Wien was able to demonstrate that catalysts based on sulfur and molybdenum meet these requirements. Special additional elements, such as manganese, ensure that carbon dioxide, which is actually very unreactive, is activated and converted. By choosing such additional elements, the properties of the catalysts can be precisely adapted to the desired field of application. In this way, methanol can now be produced from waste gas containing CO. contains2

“Methanol is an attractive product. It is liquid at room temperature, so it can be stored without any problems. It is needed in industry, until now it was normally produced from fossil raw materials,” says Karin Föttinger. “But it is also possible to make other molecules with our catalysts, such as higher alcohols. At the moment we are still figuring out how best to choose parameters such as pressure and temperature to make different products.”

The method has now been patented and is being scaled up to industrial scale in collaboration with partner companies. “We are already working with companies and at the same time are looking for other possible collaborations,” says Karin Föttinger. In this way, the new catalysts should make an important contribution to making industry climate neutral and closing material cycles.


New catalytic converter for lower CO2 emissions


Provided by Vienna University of Technology


Quote: Climate protection: CO2 converted to methanol (2022, June 28) retrieved on June 28, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-climate-co2-methanol.html

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