• 4 minutes China 2019 - Orwell was 35 years out
  • 7 minutes Wonders of US Shale: US Shale Benefits: The U.S. leads global petroleum and natural gas production with record growth in 2018
  • 11 minutes Trump will capitulate on the trade war
  • 14 minutes Glory to Hong Kong
  • 3 hours The power of propaganda has no boundaries: Which country has larger territory US od China
  • 3 hours Freedom of Speech for Dummies
  • 23 mins Boring! See Ya Clowns, And Have Fun In Germany
  • 9 hours Iranian Oil Tanker struck by missiles off Jeddah
  • 6 hours South Korea Unveils Fighter Jet Mock-Up Amid Program Challenges
  • 4 hours Crazy Stories From Round The World
  • 28 mins Bloomberg: shale slowing. Third wave of shale coming.
  • 21 hours Support Held. Back in UGAZ
  • 4 hours How The US Quietly Lost The 1st Amendment
  • 8 hours National Geographic Warns Billions Face Shortages Of Food And Clean Water Over Next 30 Years
  • 2 hours Climate Protesters Blocking Roads etc...
  • 9 hours Any difference btw Hunter Biden on BOD of Ukraine Company vs. Qatar bailout of Kushner Real Estate 666 Fifth Ave ?

Breaking News:

Can Tesla Survive Without Tax Credits?

Futurity

Futurity

Futurity covers research news from the top universities in the US, UK, Canada and Australia

More Info

Premium Content

Using CO2 to Create Polyester Fabrics

Chemists have identified a cheaper and more sustainable method for producing acrylate, a chemical used to make materials from polyester fabrics to diapers.

Chemical companies churn out billions of tons of acrylate each year, usually by heating propylene, a compound derived from crude oil.

“What we’re interested in is enhancing both the economics and the sustainability of how acrylate is made,” says Wesley Bernskoetter, assistant professor of chemistry at Brown University, who led the research. “Right now, everything that goes into making it is from relatively expensive, nonrenewable carbon sources.”

Since the 1980s researchers have been looking into the possibility of making acrylate by combining carbon dioxide with a gas called ethylene in the presence of nickel and other metal catalysts. CO2 is essentially free and something the planet has in overabundance. Ethylene is cheaper than propylene and can be made from plant biomass.

Related article: EU Caught Playing Dirty and it’s all about Russian Gas

There has been a persistent obstacle to the approach, however. Instead of forming the acrylate molecule, CO2 and ethylene tend to form a precursor molecule with a five-membered ring made of oxygen, nickel, and three carbon atoms. In order to finish the conversion to acrylate, that ring needs to be cracked open to allow the formation of a carbon-carbon double bond, a process called elimination.

That step had proved elusive. But the research by Bernskoetter and his colleagues, published in the journal Organometallics, shows that a class of chemicals called Lewis acids can easily break open that five-membered ring, allowing the molecule to eliminate and form acrylate.

Lewis acids are basically electron acceptors. In this case, the acid steals away electrons that make up the bond between nickel and oxygen in the ring. That weakens the bond and opens the ring.

“We thought that if we could find a way to cut the ring chemically, then we would be able to eliminate very quickly and form acrylate,” Bernskoetter says. “And that turns out to be true.”

He calls the finding an “enabling technology” that could eventually be incorporated in a full catalytic process for making acrylate on a mass scale. “We can now basically do all the steps required,” he says.

From here, the team needs to tweak the strength of the Lewis acid used. To prove the concept, they used the strongest acid that was easily available, one derived from boron. But that acid is too strong to use in a repeatable catalytic process because it bonds too strongly to the acrylate product to allow additional reactions with the nickel catalyst.

Related article: Calculating the True Carbon Footprint of a Renewable Energy Grid

“In developing and testing the idea, we hit it with the biggest hammer we could,” Bernskoetter says. “So what we have to do now is dial back and find one that makes it more practical.”

There’s quite a spectrum of Lewis acid strengths, so Bernskoetter is confident that there’s one that will work. “We think it’s possible,” he says. “Organic chemists do this kind of reaction with Lewis acids all the time.”

“It’s around a $2 billion-a-year industry,” Bernskoetter says. “If we can find a way to make acrylate more cheaply, we think the industry will be interested.”

The National Science Foundation’s Centers for Chemical Innovation program supported the study.

By. Kevin Stacey




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment
  • Alan on March 27 2013 said:
    If CO2 is used for a process, then presumably the carbon will need to be separated from the oxygen. Doing that must require at least as much energy as was released when the atoms were combined at some time in the past.
    Creating bonds releases energy, breaking bonds absorbs energy.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play