London, Jan 15 (ANI): Carbon dioxide could soon be used in cooling freezers and as a feedstock for alternative fuels, according to British researchers.
According to Dermot O'Hare at the University of Oxford, CO2 can be converted into methanol to be used as fuel.
However, the task is not easy, reports New Scientist.
O' Hare pointed out: "One of the difficulties chemists have is doing anything with CO2...The trouble is that the molecule is so stable, it's hard to find chemicals reactive enough to target CO2 but specific enough to ignore other components of the atmosphere such as carbon monoxide and oxygen.
But O'Hare and Andrew Ashley, also at Oxford, have now shown how to do it at the relatively low temperature of 160 degree C and at standard pressure.
The procedure is based on molecules called Lewis bases, which carry a lone pair of electrons and can bond with so-called Lewis acids to make a molecule called an adduct.
O' Hare said: "The molecules can't react - they're frustrated....And that creates a very reactive situation."
O'Hare and Ashley have succeeded in bonding the frustrated Lewis pair with CO2.
Their frustrated pair comprised of the Lewis base tetramethylpiperidine or TMP and the Lewis acid tris(pentafluorophenyl)borane. When they added hydrogen gas, the acid and hydrogen ion formed a boron-hydrogen bond that can then be used to shatter a stable CO2 molecule, which further reacts with hydrogen to form methanol and water.
Many scientists are working on similar lines, "but we've scooped a few of [them] on this", said O'Hare. He believes that is because their frustrated Lewis pair doesn't react with carbon monoxide, even though it carbon monoxide much more reactive than carbon dioxide.
He said: "You wouldn't have predicted that."
Stephan, who was not a part of the study, said it was an "important and exciting" work. He noted that it could help to design systems to reduce greenhouse gases and build alternative energy sources.
"Of course, to be viable this process would have to be coupled with a process that generates hydrogen," he added. (ANI)