CO2 and Copper; Potential for New Industrial Chemicals & Reduction of Excess CO2

A team of Scientists from Brown University announced that they have discovered a new way of converting excess CO2 into useful industrial chemicals by using copper foams.

The scientists work at the Brown University’s, Center for the Capture and Conversion of CO2 and have been working with a new foamy form of copper in their catalyst. They have found that this foamy form of copper produces vastly different effects than the smooth versions that have previously been used. This presents the possibility of creating new industrial chemicals.

Copper foam is a relatively new creation itself. According to the Scientists at Brown University, the foam is created by “depositing copper on a surface in the presence of hydrogen and a strong electric current”.  The scientists were able to show that the copper foam converted CO2 into formic acid. This formic acid is a compound that is used as a feedstock for microbes that produce bio-fuels.

The goal here is derived from a serious need to find ways to produce some of the world’s largest-volume chemicals from sources we already have. In this case, to use sustainable carbon sources, which we have excess of and need to reduce, to produce useable products. By doing this, the possibility exists that we can replace our growing dependency on fossil fuels while combating the effects of CO2 on the environment.

The researchers findings have identified that there are additional parameters that deserves attention in  elecroreduction of CO2. They stated that the architecture of the catalyst needs to be given priority. By doing so, it is possible to produce different compounds from CO2.

The research team feels that it may be possible to tune copper foam to produce different compounds in future.

The research is published in the journal ACS Catalysis.