Burning fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas releases carbon into the atmosphere as CO2 while the production of methanol and other valuable fuels and chemicals requires a supply of carbon.
There is currently no economically or energy efficient way to collect CO2 from the atmosphere and use it to produce carbon-based chemicals and fuels, but researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have just taken an important step in that direction.
Karl Johnson, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, led the research group as principal investigator. “Our ultimate goal is to find a low-energy, low-cost metal-organic frameworks (MOF) capable of separating carbon dioxide from a mixture of gases and prepare it to react with hydrogen,” says Dr. Johnson.
Dr. Johnson believes perfecting a single material that can both capture and convert CO2 would be economically viable and would reduce the net amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.
“You could capture CO2 from flue gas at power plants or directly from the atmosphere,” he says. “This research narrows our search for a very rare material with the ability to turn a hypothetical technology into a real benefit to the world.”