Carbon utilisation for a greener future

We are capturing carbon dioxide

We are capturing carbon dioxide

The Challenge

To reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere we are looking at techniques that capture it from the air, and convert it into products that industry can use.

Ideally, this should be deployed around the world, however it is currently very expensive, with one company estimating that it costs $600 to capture one tonne of CO2. The COcaptured has a low market value, even as little as $20/tonne.

The Method

To address the cost issue, Professor Enrico Andreoli and Dr Jennifer Rudd as part of the Reducing Carbon Emissions (RICE) project, alongside other researchers from Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI), are focusing on something more lucrative and more aligned to the circular economy. The team are turning carbon dioxide into commercial products using a process called electrochemical reduction. In this processes, COis captured and reacted with renewable energy, turning it into products that have a higher value.

An example of product is propanol. Propanol burns a lot more cleanly than petrol and diesel – and is something we could potentially use in cars in the future.

Close up 3D carbon cubes

Close up 3d cubes

Reduced Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) Operation has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

The impact

  • Dr Andreoli and Dr Rudd have used the above method to create a variety of different useful products including propanol, which has a high value;
  • The method also allows for the conversion of COinto products such as formic acid which can be used as a cleaning product and acetic acid, a pickling agent;
  • A further high-value product of this reaction is ethylene, the basis for poly(ethylene), one of the most commonly used plastics. The potential of using global ethylene derived from carbon dioxide (CO2) is huge, potentially utilising half a billion tonnes of the carbon dioxide emitted each year;
  • Dr Rudd also leads an interdisciplinary project engaging key stage 3 students with their carbon footprints and is now a Senior Lecturer in the School of Management specialising in climate change education and circular economy.
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UN Sustainable goal - climate action
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