We therefore need a way to target CO2 even when it’s at low concentration as part of a mixture. Currently the most common method is to send the emissions through an enrichment process, which itself consumes a large amount of energy.
Now, a team of scientists from Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan have come up with a method to convert low concentrations of CO2 directly and efficiently. They use a catalyst based on rhenium to achieve the conversion. The catalyst has very high selectivity – meaning it targets the CO2 molecule almost exclusively, even when it’s in a mixture of other chemicals – and works even when the concentration of CO2 is as low as 1%. It is likely to be the first catalyst discovered that works at such low concentrations.
Dr Osamu Ishitani says: "If we can develop the technology which we reported in this paper, we will possibly be able to use CO2 from the air to obtain artificial petroleum – similar to natural photosynthesis in future – by combining this technology with solar cells."
This article is free to read in our open access, flagship journal Chemical Science: Hiromu Kumagai et al., Chem. Sci., 2019, Advance Article. DOI: 10.1039/C8SC04124E. You can access all of our ChemSci Picks in this article collection. Read more like this