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New Way to Convert CO2 into Methanol, posted in Biofuels, Environment, Future Energy.


Alternative Energy
Alternative Energy

New Way to Convert CO2 into Methanol

News » Energy | Biofuels | Environment | Hydrogen | Solar | Transportation | Wind
April 25th, 2009 - View Comments

CO2 into Methanol Scientists are continuously working on to find an alternative to fossil fuels. We are familiar with the side effects of fossil fuels and its impact on environment. Right now the fossil fuels seem to be necessary evil we can’t do without. Scientists want alternative fuels that have none of the ill effects of traditional fuels.

For a long time researchers are eying the carbon dioxide as an alternative fuel. Because carbon dioxide emanation is a hotly-debated global issue. This gas is held responsible for greenhouse effect that in turn is causing irreversible climate change. Human beings are responsible for carbon dioxide emissions. This gas is produced when we use fossil fuels. This is not the exact figure but carbon dioxide’s amount is increasing in earth’s atmosphere by more than 30% since the industrial revolution. According to estimates of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the world requires to reduce the global carbon dioxide by 60% in order to stabilize it at present-day levels.

Scientific researches are focusing on solutions that reduce global warming. Presently there is one popular term known as “green chemistry” which aims at minimizing or altogether eliminating the use of hazardous substances to prevent environmental pollution. Scientists at the Singapore-based Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) are striving to make the mass production of methanol more cost-effective. This will result in reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released in the earth’s atmosphere. Scientists at the Singapore-based Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have achieved an unparalleled feat by transforming carbon dioxide into methanol. Methanol is a widely used form of industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.

Their main achievement was using “organocatalysts” and making the whole process non-toxic to produce the more useful chemical compound. Professor Jackie Y. Ying who is IBN executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology shares his views, “We are innovating effective methods of generating clean energy using green chemistry and nanotechnology. In the face of environmental pollution, global warming and increasing demands on diminishing fossil fuel resources, we hope to provide a viable alternative energy option for industry, and effective sequestration and conversion of carbon dioxide.”

At the IBN, scientists successfully made carbon dioxide react with a stable organocatalyst called N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC). This reaction took place under mild conditions in dry air. Siti Nurhanna Riduan who is the senior lab officer at IBN explained about the experiment, “NHCs have shown tremendous potential for activating and fixing carbon dioxide. Our work can contribute towards transforming excess carbon dioxide in the environment into useful products, such as methanol.”

Further they used a combination of silica and hydrogen known as hydrosilane. Hydrosilane is added to the NHC-activated carbon dioxide, which is converted into methanol through hydrolysis. Dr Yugen Zhang who is the IBN team leader and principal research scientist elaborates about the intricacies of the chemical reaction, “Hydrosilane provides hydrogen, which bonds with carbon dioxide in a reduction reaction. This carbon dioxide reduction is efficiently catalyzed by NHCs even at room temperature. Methanol can be easily obtained from the product of the carbon dioxide reaction.”

What do you think?

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  • Howard Wilkinson

    What isn’t discussed here at all is the energy input… As with splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, there must be energy input to split the CO2 into carbon and oxygen… a considerable input. Energy input will aways exceed energy released in combustion… it’s a fact of life. The process uses catalysts to promote the formation of methanol which is a liquid fuel… a great way to utilize hydrogen which in itself is a silly direction to take as a fuel. Combine it with carbon and you have a hydrocarbon like methanol… thus a complete cycle.

  • http://genedrekeke.blogspot.com/ Gene Drekeke Iyovo

    Since global warming campaigns are hot they will have enough money to finance even though it may have negative profit margin of the operation.The good news is carbon dioxide from fossil fuel can be adjusted to make friendly operation.The bad news is carbon dioxide is not the major component of the atmospheric air with 0.03% composition yet the world is so frightened to get rid of them.Plants may have their say at the conferences! Carbon dioxide is as vital like O2. We need CO2.

    On the other hand fossil driven power plants may rejoice to use the process to convert CO2 to CHOH.

  • John Bamberger

    Converting carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons is exactly what plants do. They “breath in” carbon dioxide and then use photosynthesis to break off the carbon from oxygen – which they “breath out” – which we as animals breath in, then breath out carbon dioxide.

    Perhaps we should study how the plants do it with so little energy expenditure and imitate that process.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alternative.energy.news Ligia Fein

    Have you heard of JATROPHA trees?

  • Gate

    I think a more efficient way is to produce a photovoltaic direct electricity not on this way. They want to addict you. I think a independent future is better and more secure!

  • Howard Wilkinson

    It seems a bit silly doesn’t it…….. trying to make a factory do what plants do…….. Plants do it with solar energy. Burn coal for power, then take the power produced to drive a process to create methanol???

  • Steve Stowell

    Yes howard. Most of these alt energy discussions do not
    1. Discuss total net energy or cost at the system level (do they really save money? Does the entire proposed system really save energy? Are there other environmental costs)
    2. Really discuss the relative merits or risks of the work (what is the state of the art? What are the risks? Is this really a breakthrough technology? Are there other things out there that compete with this technology)
    3. Provide more quantitative data

    All of this takes more work, but does not have to detract from efforts to keep this for a general audience. More thoughtful links within the embedded popular text would really make this thing more useful.

    As to this article, I am concerned about wasting valuable research dollars on anything that purports to solve our carbon problems.

    On the other hand, my wallet’s a bit low, and this gives me an idea. . . :)

  • Jezreel Magbanua

    I believe it’s as simple as this. Carbon dioxide is not the major greenhouse gas. It is only produced in big quantities, but there other greenhouse gases that are more damaging to the environment. The simple solution to global warming is planting. Basically, plants inhale carbon dioxide and converts it to sugar and oxygen. Too much release of carbon is beneficial to plants, and consequently to humans. There is no need for complex technologies. The whole world needs only to plant as many as they can, a simple solution that is not given consideration…

  • Alex Markin

    Seems to be an exercise for students to pick up something about catalysts. Otherwise, self-defeating. I do hope students are taught the realities of energy and mass balances with some developed understanding of economics. BTW algae does what they are doing rather well, except for production of higher C content alcohols.

  • http://www.alternaenergy.ca Leonard Legault

    Absolutely!
    Unfortunately there is a “gold rush” metality out there and “not all that glitters is gold”. I hope that when we see annoucements about bioenergy the mass energy balance calculation has been done so everyone’s time is not wasted.

  • Tillmann Viefhaus

    I also have worked on the conversion of CO2 to methanol using electrolytic methods and organic nitrogen compounds. Based on the results of these experiments I can say that the yield of any conversion is far below 0.1% if one is working with water as proton source which is the cheapest and most harmless one. Former papers describe reactions using mercury which also cannot be seen as a genie in the bottle.

    The use of hydrosilanes is kinda trap because this group of substances is very reactive. Beside of that they also need energy and usually water free conditions to be formed. So, all investigated methods of CO2 to “hydrocarbons” are reactions with a negative yield of energy. We also should no forget that plants store the CO2 as carbon hydrates which are solids. If we want to produce large amounts of any carbon hydrate or hydrocarbon we need pure CO2 which must be extracted from air or any gas mixture of burning oil/coal processes. One can see easily that this is not solving our basic problem.

  • Ahsanullah Soomro

    Conversion of CO2 into Methanol need energy input, why we not find a such mechanism, once process stats than recycle continuously, without consuming the energy and generate the electricity!!It can be possible i am trying my best to do it. Such mechanism which will generate the electricity without consumption of input energy, Mechanisms I have done but now i am trying to make it recycle. once it succeeds than no need of alternative energy and no non-renewable energy, I am graduate Student of Energy and Environment Engineering Department, QUEST, Nawabhah, Pakistan, I will do it soon.

  • Syed Aqeel Ahmed

    I would like to congratulate IBN scientists and the organization for their financial contribution. After reading the article and all comments I came to the conclusion that we have to oblige and carry out some pilot projects at our work stations. Mostly like me are busy with their day to day responsibility at our work stations. The thought and technology is not only related with global warming it mainly related with Energy price reduction, like how phone calling rates and other electronic items price came down. The existing running power plant can not be dismantled suddenly to adopt new means of power generation. so I will request all concerns that test this method in lab and give the input/findings.

  • Hrapal Singh Grewal

    I aggree with jezreel Magbanua(8). There is more of an intellectual corruption prevailing than actual or realistic information. Plant trees & more trees.

  • momoh

    CO2 to methanol? this is not good news. CO2 is very important in maintaining the warmth of the biosphere,the moment this vision becomes a reality, man invests his money for more and this may lead to CO2 depletion. We may move from global warming to ice age. we should be careful.

  • Tay Fook Seng

    Plant produce carbohydrate through reduction process between NADPH and carbon dioxide. It is thus possible for human beings to reduce produce something from carbon dioxide through the same process.

  • jitendra patel

    Is it possible to Convert co2 into oxygen?

  • Joseph

    Biofuel has gone advanced and scientific researches have really contributed a lot to save mankind from relying solely on fossil fuels which emits so much co2 into the environment.

  • Benjamin

    So if the project succeeds in mass production, does this mean methanol price will go down significantly?

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