Spanish scientists manage to transform carbon dioxide into usable and clean products

Madrid (EFE).- Spanish scientists have managed to transform carbon dioxide, the main cause of climate change, into useful and fully usable products, including acetone, ether or oxygenated hydrocarbons, essential for the development of green fuels.

It has been achieved and patented by UNED researchers led by Professor Francisco Ivars-Barceló, from the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Technical Chemistry, who has stressed to EFE that the system would allow the use and transformation of some of the most harmful gases – such as methane or carbon dioxide – in industrial quantities, and explained that the patent already includes demonstrative experiments.

It is a catalytic system that acts as a “chemical transformer”, and among its main advantages, scientists have pointed out that it produces these new and usable substances without emitting new gases, since instead of using conventional methods from other raw materials that require high energy consumption, it works at low temperatures (below 250 degrees) and at pressures even below atmospheric.

The products obtained have a very high demand

The project that led to this patent was funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Community of Madrid, and the results were published in the Chemical Engineering Journal.

Ivars-Barceló has detailed that in addition to acetone or “dimellitic” ether – which is used as a refrigerant or for the manufacture of some plastics – you can also obtain ethanol, propanol or isopropanol, which have very high demand volumes worldwide.

Ethanol or isopropanol are already used as gasoline additives to reduce carbon monoxide, and “dimethyl ether” as a substitute for diesel in some special engines, thereby eliminating particles in emissions, he explained. the researcher, who has stressed that the importance of the method they have patented lies precisely in the possibility of manufacturing them in industrial quantities.

The UNED professor has reported that they have already obtained the first results on a laboratory scale, but that it would still be necessary to complete several stages until the optimization phases, the construction of a pilot plant and the possible commercialization are completed.

Several companies have been interested in the system

“The research continues to advance to optimize both the materials and the overall catalytic process, and the associated demonstration experiments are carried out daily,” the project’s principal investigator told EFE, and has assured that despite still being a recent investigation that has revealed its first results, several companies have already become interested in this system.

Ivars-Barceló has observed that both carbon dioxide and methane are emitted into the atmosphere because they are treated as worthless waste; 90 percent of methane is burned to produce energy with the consequent emission of carbon dioxide, and of the remaining 10 percent, only 1 percent is used in direct transformation processes into value-added compounds.

Transform waste into a valuable raw material

The focus then is to develop “profitable and efficient” processes to transform them into value-added compounds, maintains the scientist, for whom the success of this task would be to generate economic interest from the industry in these gases and for them to begin to be seen as valuable raw materials. “and not as something to burn or as a waste to be disposed of.”

The UNED researcher has stressed that “the greater the progress in optimization, the greater the interest it may arouse for the industry,” but he has insisted that, no matter how much progress is made in optimizing this method, the role of scientists cannot go further, and that the involvement of companies would therefore be necessary to complete the process and culminate in the commercialization of these products.

“There must be projects or intermediate stages of collaboration between researchers and companies, so that an effective and complete technology transfer is guaranteed,” the researcher concluded.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga