UK scientists have developed new technology which they claim can reduce their country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 4%. The method they devised converts waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates, a chemical compound, which is in high demand by paint manufacturers and biodegradable packaging producers.
Cyclic carbonates are the result of a chemical reaction between CO2 and epoxide. That is not new knowledge, but the team, based at Newcastle University, say they’ve developed a highly energy efficient method for the conversion process. Until now creating cyclic carbonates had been energy intensive because high temperatures were required for the chemical reaction to take place. Plus the old method also required of ultra-pure CO2, which is costly to produce.
The Newcastle University team, led by Michael North, Professor of Organic Chemistry, has found that aluminum yields an exceptionally active catalyst which eliminates the need for high temperatures. “[Aluminum] can drive the reaction necessary to turn waste carbon dioxide into cyclic carbonates at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, vastly reducing the energy input required”, the scientists say.
North says the technology has the potential to use up to 48 million tonnes of waste CO2 per year. That’s equivalent to 4% of the entire UK’s emission levels, an incredible number when considered as the contribution from one technology to cutting greenhouse gas. Professor North and his team are planning to open a pilot plant in the near future.