Skip to comments.Too Green to Be True? Researchers Develop Highly Effective Method for Converting CO2 Into Methanol
Posted on 06/23/2013 3:31:33 PM PDT by lbryce
Université Laval researchers have developed a highly effective method for converting CO2 into methanol, which can be used as a low-emissions fuel for vehicles. The team led by Professor Frédéric-Georges Fontaine presents the details of this discovery in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Researchers have been looking for a way to convert carbon dioxide into methanol in a single step using energy-efficient processes for years. "In the presence of oxygen, methanol combustion produces CO2 and water," explained Professor Fontaine. "Chemists are looking for catalysts that would yield the opposite reaction. That would allow us to slash greenhouse gas emissions by synthesizing a fuel that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels."
The catalyst developed by Frédéric-Georges Fontaine and his team is made of two chemical groups. The first is borane, a compound of boron, carbon, and hydrogen. The second, phosphine, is made up of phosphorus, carbon, and hydrogen. "Unlike most catalysts developed thus far to convert CO2 into methanol, ours contains no metal, which reduces both the costs and toxic hazard of the catalyst," added the chemistry professor at the Faculty of Science and Engineering.
CO2 to methanol catalysis requires a source of hydrogen and chemical energy. The researchers had the idea of using a compound called hydroborane (BH3), and the results have been spectacular. The reaction achieved is two times more effective than the best catalyst knownand it produces little waste. What makes the discovery even more compelling is the fact that the chemical reaction does not damage the catalyst, which can be reactivated by adding new substrate.
The only downside of the operation is the price tag. "Our approach to creating methanol is highly effective from a chemistry standpoint, but for now the process is expensive," explained Professor Fontaine. "It takes a lot of energy to synthesize hydroborane, which makes it more expensive than methanol. We are working on ways to make the process more profitable by optimizing the reaction and exploring other hydrogen sources."
Explore further: Homogeneous catalysis: ruthenium phosphine complex hydrogenates carbon dioxide to make methanol
Journal reference: Journal of the American Chemical Society search and more info website
Provided by Laval University search and more info website
This process has the capability if not to change the world, certainly to create a new paradigm shift that is probably even more valuable than the shale oil, gas breakthrough.
There are many numerous benefits of being able to convert CO2 into methanol that it boggles the mind. I just hope the guys working on this project have never tried getting Cold Fusion to work.
Isn't this pretty much the OLD definition of catalyst?
Unless it violates the second law of thermodynamics, you have to put more power in than you get out. Which, ultimately, means using nuclear power plants to provide power going into the process.
Nothing wrong with that, but the greenies will predictably object. And the regulators have pretty much guaranteed that there will be little or no new nuclear power in the foreseeable future.
Also, it’s not necessarily green, since if you convert enough CO2, you’ll starve the plants.
Problem solved....(I dislike methanol)
Sounds like they may be awhile finding a way to synthesize the hydroborane. There is always a twist in the road.
Stop hallucinating. The process is not cost effective and who knows when it will be. So far it is just an interesting chemistry experiment....
Unicorns prancing through the flowery meadows ...
Maybe you can accept a lot of inefficiency if you have some otherwise wasted energy like solar, wind or nuclear during off-peak hours.
I usually stop reading, or at least read on with skepticism when a “popular science” like publication makes an absurd statement such as “chemists are looking for catalysts that would yield the opposite reaction.”. First off, catalysts don’t “yield the opposite reaction. They lower the activation energy barrier on an otherwise thermodynamically favorable reaction, thus improving kinetics and therefore the forward reaction rate. There is no “catalyst” that magically turns the arrow around on an energetically favored (but maybe blocked by an energy barrier) forward reaction.
What if, despite all the alarmist hype about CO2, we are currently on the verge of starving plants?
The only downside of the operation is the price tag.
“CO2 to methanol catalysis requires a source of hydrogen and chemical energy.”
The main source of hydrogen today is . . . petroleum. Not real sure how this process is going to be much help.
It will if your a research scientwist looking for a nice grant.
Burning alcohol actually dirtier than gasoline and less fuel efficient.
“Unicorns prancing through the flowery meadows ...”
I love your analogy. lol
“but for now the process is expensive,” explained Professor Fontaine. “It takes a lot of energy to synthesize hydroborane”
LOL! Guess there’s no free lunch after all.
Yep, this is a WONDERFUL process except it takes, oh let’s say, 50,000 BTU to make 5,000 BTU worth of methane.
Given that this is one of those magic catalyst schemes, for a second I thought this was a Kevmo post, but then I saw that the chemists admitted their scheme was essentially a fantasy because it had just one teensy, weensy, teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy, lil problem, namely it’s all basically BS afterall.
Of course not. That is where the flux capacitor comes in...
A few years back, the Fischer-Tropsche process was “rediscovered” and all the rage in various synthetic fuel articles and websites. It was developed by the Germans who were at the time the world’s best chemists and knew what the heck they were doing. The process involves the pyrolysis of coal with steam to a mixture of water vapor, diatomic hydrogen gas, and carbon monoxide. This “syngas” mixture was then put in heavy duty reaction tanks, and heated to great temperatures and pressures, thereby reversing that pesky thermodynamic arrow mentioned above. However the kinetics are very slow, and if left in this state would just remain mostly syngas. But introduce some metallic iron or cobalt, and the energy barrier is circumvented and the reaction takes place at a reasonable rate. All the heat for coal decomposition, plus that to increase the temperture and pressure at reaction conditions represent energy expended into the system to get the desired reaction product. The resulting gasoline, or whater new hydrocarbon you have made represents the net sum of all the effort you put into making it. And as the saying goes, there is no free lunch... especially in chemistry.
I have perfected an engine powered by those prancing unicorns and children's wishes. I'm also seeking investors. :)
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