An electrocatalyst has been developed that converts carbon dioxide in plastics, fabrics and resins

Scientists from the University of Rutgers have developed electric catalysts operating from solar energy, which stimulate chemical reactions between carbon dioxide and water, creating plastic, fabrics, resins and other useful products from them.

Not counting enzymes, electrocatalysts are the only materials capable of converting CO2 and water into carbon compounds containing from one to four carbon atoms with efficiency above 99%. Methylgloxal (C3) and 2,3-Furandiol (C3) and 2,3-Furandiol (C4) created by methylgloxal (C4) can be used as precursors for plastics, adhesives and pharmaceutical preparations. In this case, the installation is powered by renewable energy sources, and the principle of its work is based on the chemistry of artificial photosynthesis.

Previously, scientists represented ways to electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into methanol, ethanol and ethylene with relatively high output. However, they were ineffective and expensive, which made them unsuitable for commercial production.

Therefore, in Rutgerles decided to combine CO2 with water to create useful chemical products using cheap and affordable catalysts from nickel and phosphorus. Changing the catalyst and reaction conditions allows determining the number of carbon atoms that will be combined to create new molecules or even long polymers.

The image shows a carbon dioxide transformation scheme into beneficial chemicals.

The team has already received a patent for this invention and organized the startup renewco₂. In the future, scientists plan to apply the technology for the production of other valuable products, such as diols, widely used in the polymer industry, or hydrocarbons that can act as renewable fuel. At the moment, the team is engaged in the design and testing of commercial electrolyzers.

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