NETL researchers are using advanced computational tools to repurpose carbon dioxide (CO2) from a waste product into chemical building blocks to manufacturer fuels and a range of other high-value items.

The laboratory’s Computational Materials and Engineering Team is working on the project which hopes to develop CO2 recycling through electrochemistry, a process which can be conducted at near room temperature and ambient pressure using electricity from renewable energy sources. 

In a statement, the laboratory said its researchers will use a variety of cutting-edge experimental and computational techniques to understand and optimise catalysts and open new doors to CO2 conversion.

NETL’s goal is to discover precise catalyst recipes. The project want to know what types of catalysts work best to selectively and efficiently turn CO2 into specific chemical compounds.

A major objective of the nanocatalyst research is to create efficient catalysts that have high stability and long lifespans by controlling the size, shape, surface composition and electronic structure.

Commenting on the project, researcher Dominic Alfonso, said, “For more than a century, we have used fossil fuels to produce our electricity and for a variety of other purposes. However, when we extract energy from fossil fuels, we create CO2, the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities.”

“We can address this issue by using CO2 from factories and power plants as a chemical feedstock. Waste CO2 emissions can become something you can recycle into valuable products, providing a strong financial incentive to reduce the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere.”

“The bottom line is we are paving the way to developing less-expensive CO2 utilisation catalysts that can convert CO2 into useful products society needs while dramatically reducing the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere,”