Converting carbon dioxide into useful chemicals

Recently I blogged about the importance of green chemistry in process research and development. But making the things we need in a greener way is only one step in our journey to a more sustainable lifestyle. Dealing with the waste we produce is also crucial.

Graphical abstract: Recent advances in catalytic hydrogenation of carbon dioxideIn the latest issue of Chem Soc Rev (7), Jinlong Gong and colleagues explore how we can deal with carbon dioxide (CO2) waste. As most of us know, CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to global warming. Unsurprisingly, working out how to reduce its level in the atmosphere is a major area of research. There are three possible strategies – reducing the amount we produce (i.e. burn less fossil fuel); capture and store the CO2 we do produce; or use it.

CO2 is an attractive building block for making organic chemicals and materials, says Gong, but currently its use is limited to a few industrial processes. It is thermodynamically stable so high energy substances or electroreductive processes are used to transform it into other chemicals.

The group discuss the steps scientists have taken to improve the hydrogenation of CO2, which can produce useful chemicals such as methanol, ethers, and hydrocarbons. They cover catalyst design, reactor optimisation and reaction mechanisms as well as the challenges and opportunities for future research in the field.

Read the review and let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

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