Converting CO2 Into Fuel Without Metals

Researchers in India have developed the first metal-free—ligand-free catalyst for carbon dioxide conversion into methane.

AsianScientist (Apr. 2, 2020) – Silica, a major component of sand, could help slow the march of climate change by converting carbon dioxide into methane fuel. These findings by a research group at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is one of the main contributors to climate change. Capturing carbon dioxide and converting it into fuel not only removes it from the environment but also produces an alternative to fossil fuels. However, existing methods for converting carbon dioxide into fuels like methane require expensive and unstable metal catalysts, preventing carbon dioxide methanation from being adopted at scale.

In the present study, a team of researchers led by Associate Professor Vivek Polshettiwar have used silica to create a metal-free—ligand-free catalyst. Instead of using metal nanoparticles, the team used nanosilica to design a new catalyst system that is stable in the air even at high temperatures.

They found that defects in nanosilica could activate carbon dioxide and dissociate hydrogen gas, effectively converting carbon dioxide into methane. Their nanosilica catalyst is recyclable and stable for more than 200 hours. Notably, unlike in expensive metal catalysts, catalytic activity increased significantly after every regeneration cycle, reaching more than double the methane production rate after eight regeneration cycles as compared to the initial catalyst performance.

The article can be found at: Mishra et al. (2020) Defects in Nanosilica Catalytically Convert CO2 to Methane Without Any Metal and Ligand.


Source: Tata Institute of Fundamental Research; Photo: Unsplash.
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