Bath University is leading a project to develop porous materials that are able to absorb CO2 and convert it into new products, such as car fuel and plastics.
The research, which has received £1.4m of funding from the EPSRC, will see Bath’s Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (I-SEE) work alongside engineers from Bristol and West of England universities to develop materials for use in zero-carbon products.
According to Dr David Fermin from Bristol University, there is currently no effective large-scale technology available for capturing and processing carbon dioxide in this way.
’Conventional approaches to processing CO2 involve designing catalysts capable of adsorbing and reducing CO2,’ he said. ’This has proved to be a mighty challenge, particularly in the electrochemical context. In this project, we will investigate composite materials in which adsorption and reduction will take place in different domains integrated at the nanoscale.’
Dr Frank Marken, a lecturer in chemistry at Bath University, said that existing processes rely on separate technology to extract, capture and utilise CO2. He believes that by combining the processes together, there will be less energy required to drive the CO2 reduction, making the process more viable.
Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory added: ’One of the great advantages of this project is that it will attempt to exploit the natural abilities of photo-heterotrophic micro-organisms in utilising light to fix CO2, which in turn will allow the production of biomass to be used as fuel and electricity or hydrogen, as required.’
The researchers hope that in the future, porous materials will be used to line factory chimneys to take carbon-dioxide pollutants from the air, reducing the effects of climate change.