Sugar-powered catalyst turns carbon dioxide into useful chemicals

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A groundbreaking discovery by Northwestern University scientists could hold the key to tackling carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, a major contributor to climate change.

They’ve developed a catalyst, using a mix of common table sugar and an abundant metal called molybdenum, that can transform CO2 into carbon monoxide (CO), a versatile building block for various valuable chemicals.

This breakthrough comes at a crucial time as efforts to capture CO2 emissions from industrial activities are gaining momentum.

But the big question has always been: what do we do with the captured CO2? This new catalyst offers a potential solution by converting CO2 into a valuable product, opening up opportunities for its reuse.

Lead researcher Milad Khoshooei emphasizes the urgency of addressing CO2 levels in the atmosphere, which persist even if emissions were to cease immediately.

He highlights the need for multiple solutions to combat this issue.

Unlike other catalysts that rely on expensive metals, the key ingredient in this catalyst is molybdenum, a widely available and inexpensive metal.

The surprise ingredient? Table sugar. Yes, the same sugar found in kitchens around the world is used to produce this catalyst, making it incredibly cost-effective.

The catalyst’s performance is impressive, converting CO2 into CO with 100% selectivity, meaning it only targets CO2 without affecting other materials.

Even after enduring harsh conditions for 500 hours, the catalyst remained stable and active, a rarity in the world of catalysts.

Converting CO2 is no easy task due to its stability, but this catalyst overcomes that challenge, offering a promising solution for carbon capture and utilization. By working in tandem with other carbon capture technologies, like metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), this catalyst could play a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions.

Imagine a future where CO2 captured from industrial processes is not just stored underground but transformed into useful chemicals, thanks to this innovative catalyst.

It’s a step towards a more sustainable and economically viable approach to addressing climate change.

The research, supported by organizations including the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, holds immense promise for a greener future.

With continued advancements in carbon capture and utilization technologies, we’re inching closer to a world where CO2 emissions are not just reduced but repurposed for good.

Source: Northwestern University.