A common greenhouse gas could be repurposed in an efficient and environmentally friendly way with an electrolyzer that uses renewable electricity to produce pure liquid fuels.
The catalytic reactor developed by the Rice University lab of chemical and biomolecular engineer Haotian Wang uses carbon dioxide as its feedstock and, in its latest prototype, produces highly purified and high concentrations of formic acid.
Formic acid produced by traditional carbon dioxide devices needs costly and energy-intensive purification steps, Wang said.
The direct production of pure formic acid solutions will help to promote commercial carbon dioxide conversion technologies.
“The polymer-based solid electrolyte is coated with sulfonic acid ligands to conduct positive charge or amino functional groups to conduct negative ions.”Usually people reduce carbon dioxide in a traditional liquid electrolyte like salty water,” Wang said.
The researchers expect to achieve higher concentrations from next-generation reactors that accept gas flow to bring out pure formic acid vapors.
“The big picture is that carbon dioxide reduction is very important for its effect on global warming as well as for green chemical synthesis,” Wang said.
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