Researchers convert carbon into green energy

April 20th, 2009 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, April 20 (IANS) Scientists here have succeeded in converting a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide into a green energy source.
Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) researchers said they used organocatalysts to help carbon dioxide (CO2) produce methanol, a widely used industrial feedstock and clean-burning biofuel.

Organocatalysts are catalysts that comprise non-metallic elements found in organic compounds. They can be produced easily at low cost.

The scientists made CO2 react by using N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), an organocatalyst, which unlike heavy, toxic and unstable metal catalysts are stable, even in the presence of oxygen.

“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,” said Siti Nurhanna Riduan, IBN senior lab officer.

Previous attempts to convert CO2 into more useful products have required more energy input and a much longer reaction time. They also require transition metal catalysts, which are both unstable in oxygen and expensive, said an IBN release.

These findings were published in Angewandte Chemie.

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