A team of researchers from Chung-Ang University in Korea have converted carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful commercial products as part of a study that aims to advance the potential of carbon capture and utilisation (CCU).
By using chemicals to convert captured CO2 into products, it may be possible to limit global warming and mitigate its effects.
Largely limited to only about 20 conversion compounds, global CCU research must expand the scope of its range of chemical compounds, according to the research team.
Led by Professor Sungho Yoon and Associate Professor Chul-Jin Lee, the team recently published a study where they explore the utilisation of industrial CO2 and dolomite – a common and abundant sedimentary rock that is a rich source of calcium and magnesium – for the production of calcium formate and magnesium oxide.
The study involved researchers using a catalyst (Ru/bpyTN-30-CTF) to add hydrogen to CO2, resulting in the production of the two products.
The unique properties of calcium formate make it an ideal additive in a range of industries including leather tanning, silage treatment and cement manufacturing.
As an additive in grouts and cement, calcium formate increases hardness and decreases setting time in comparison to ordinary cements.
Magnesium oxide is also used extensively in the construction and pharmaceutical industries.
“There is a growing interest in utilising CO2 to produce valuable products that can help mitigate climate change while creating economic benefits,” said Yoon. “By combining CO2 hydrogenation and cation exchange reaction, a process for simultaneous metal oxide purification and high value formate production has been developed.
The researchers also found that their chemical conversion process could reduce global warming potential by 20% when compared to traditional calcium formate production methods.
This could lead to the replacement of current production methods. “Based on the results, we can say that our method offers an eco-friendly CO2 conversion alternative that could replace the conventional approaches, potentially contributing to the reduction of industrial CO2 emissions.”
However, the team admits that there are challenges surrounding the adoption of CCU technologies.
“We need to be combining CCU processes with waste material recycling to make them both environmentally and economically beneficial. This may contribute to achieving a Net Zero emissions goal in the future,” said Dr. Lee.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), around 230 million tonnes of CO2 are currently used each year, mainly in direct use pathways in the fertiliser industry for urea manufacturing and for enhanced oil recovery.
CO2 use for synthetic fuels remains the leading new utilisation route. Only a handful of large-scale (>100,000 tonnes CO2 per year) capture plants using CO2 for the production of fuels and chemicals and yield enhancement are in operation today.
An increasing share of the synthetic fuel project pipeline is targeting sources of CO2 which are compatible with a Net Zero trajectory, including air and bioenergy or waste plants.