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For years researchers have been looking for a method to convert carbon dioxide directly into methanol, in order to create a new source of fuel, and reduce the dependency on fossil fuels.
A team from the Université Laval, in Canada, have discovered an efficient method. Professor Frédéric-Georges Fontaine, part of the team that made the discovery, explained that “in the presence of oxygen, methanol combustion produces CO2 and water. Chemists are looking for catalysts that would yield the opposite reaction. That would allow us to slash greenhouse gas emissions by synthesizing a fuel that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”
Part of the process to turn the CO2 into methanol fuel requires a source of hydrogen. The teams choice to use a compound called hydroborane has resulted in a reaction that is two times as effective as the current best known catalyst, whilst at the same time producing little waste, and causing no damage to the catalyst, allowing it to be reused.
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Their technique has proven to be the most efficient, and effective method of producing methanol fuel from CO2, yet it is not ready to take the world by storm just yet. Hydroborane is expensive to produce, meaning that the whole system is unprofitable; until the process is refined and made cheaper the world will have to keep on waiting for a methanol fuel source.
Professor Fontaine said that their “approach to creating methanol is highly effective from a chemistry standpoint, but for now the process is expensive. It takes a lot of energy to synthesize hydroborane, which makes it more expensive than methanol. We are working on ways to make the process more profitable by optimizing the reaction and exploring other hydrogen sources.”
By. Joao Peixe of Oilprice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com