Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Technological breakthrough in the fight to cut greenhouse gases

25.04.2008
Scientists at Newcastle University, UK, have pioneered breakthrough technology in the fight to cut greenhouse gases.

The Newcastle University team, led by Michael North, Professor of Organic Chemistry, has developed a highly energy-efficient method of converting waste carbon dioxide (CO2) into chemical compounds known as cyclic carbonates.

The team 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 per cent.

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 one which, until now, 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 aluminium, 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.

Professor North said: 'One of the main scientific challenges facing the human race in the 21st century is controlling global warming that results from increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

'One solution to this problem, currently being given serious consideration, is carbon capture and storage, which involves concentrating and compressing CO2 and then storing it,' he said. 'However, long-term storage remains to be demonstrated'.

To date, alternative solutions for converting CO2 emissions into a useful product has required a process so energy intensive that they generate more CO2 than they consume.

Professor North compares the process developed by his team to that of a catalytic converter fitted to a car. 'If our catalyst could be employed at the source of high-concentration CO2 production, for example in the exhaust stream of a fossil-fuel power station, we could take out the carbon dioxide, turn it into a commercially-valuable product and at the same time eliminate the need to store waste CO2', he said.

Professor North believes that, once it is fully developed, the technology has the potential to utilise a significant amount of the UK's CO2 emissions every year.

'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.

'Using 48 million tonnes of waste CO2 would account for about four per cent* of the UK's CO2 emissions, which is a pretty good contribution from one technology,' commented Professor North.

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 optimise the efficiency of the technology, following which they plan to scale-up to a pilot plant.

* Based on 2004 figures from the UN. Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

Melanie Reed | alfa
Further information:
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/content.phtml?ref=1209034169

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>