Scientists transform CO2 into clean-burning biofuel

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Washington, April 17 (ANI): Scientists at Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) have become the first to transform the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) into methanol, which is a widely used industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.

The IBN researchers report that by using organocatalysts, they activated CO2 in a mild and non-toxic process to produce methanol, a widely used industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.

Organocatalysts are catalysts that are comprised of non-metallic elements found in organic compounds.

NHCs such as IMes (1,3-bis- (2,4,6 trimethylphenyl)imidazolylidene) are a form of organocatalysts that are stable and easily stored.

They do not contain toxic heavy metals and can be produced easily without high costs.

The scientists made carbon dioxide react by using N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), a novel organocatalyst.

In contrast to heavy metal catalysts that contain toxic and unstable components, NHCs are stable, even in the presence of oxygen.

Hence, the reaction with NHCs and carbon dioxide can take place under mild conditions in dry air.

The IBN scientists showed that only a small amount of NHC is required to induce carbon dioxide activity in a reaction.

According to Siti Nurhanna Riduan, IBN Senior Lab Officer, "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."

Hydrosilane, a combination of silica and hydrogen, is added to the NHC-activated carbon dioxide, and the product of this reaction is transformed into methanol by adding water through hydrolysis.

"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," explained Yugen Zhang, IBN Team Leader and Principal Research Scientist.

"We have now shown that NHCs can also be applied successfully to the conversion of carbon dioxide into methanol, helping to unleash the potential of this highly abundant gas," he added. (ANI)

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