The danger of excessive accumulation of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere prompted scientists to look for ways to remove it from the air. Since we are talking about a gaseous product, the ideas of converting CO2 into something useful, for example, carbon nanofibers or even diesel fuel, began to arise everywhere. Unfortunately, most of the invented methods required high temperatures and considerable energy consumption.
Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a technology for producing methanol from carbon dioxide in the air. The technology does not require too high temperatures and is quite simple. Methanol, being the basis of all alcohols, has the potential to become an environmentally friendly fuel for modified internal combustion engines.
Methanol can be used to produce formaldehyde - the basis for the creation of plastics, explosives, paints, dimethyl ether, acetic acid, solvents and antifreezes.
How methanol is obtained
First, the air containing CO2 is passed through an aqueous solution of pentaethylenehexamine. At certain temperatures, alcohol derivatives are formed as a result. A ruthenium-based catalyst (a platinum-group metal) is then added, which promotes the combination of CO2 with hydrogen. The resulting solution is heated to 125-165 ° C. In this case, about 79% of CO2 is converted into methanol.
According to the head of research, Professor G.K. Prakash, at the moment the technology cannot compete with oil at a price of $ 30 per barrel. However, the reserves of oil and gas remaining on Earth are not so great, and it will be possible to obtain fuel from carbon dioxide for at least another 5 billion years.