A new hybrid catalyst converts carbon dioxide into ethylene in one pot. The catalyst was developed by scientists from Ames National Laboratory, Iowa State University, University of Virginia, and Columbia University.
A new hybrid catalyst converts carbon dioxide into ethylene in one pot. The catalyst was developed by scientists from Ames National Laboratory, Iowa State University, University of Virginia, and Columbia University. This catalyst supports the world net-zero carbon initiative by using carbon dioxide (CO2) as a feedstock for efficient ethylene production powered by electricity.
Ethylene is a commodity chemical used to manufacture a wide range of products from plastics to antifreeze. The large-scale production of ethylene is energy intensive and relies heavily on fossil resources. Electrocatalytic production of ethylene from CO2 is emerging as a promising method. This new catalyst consists of only earth-abundant materials, such as nickel and copper, and requires less energy for chemical reaction.
Long Qi, a scientist at Ames Lab, explained how the catalyst works. Atomically dispersed nickel anchored on nitrogen assembly carbon (NAC) works to catalyze CO2 to CO at low voltage and high current. The catalyst is effective over a wide range of voltages and its effectiveness at higher currents means a higher rate of CO production.
“Since this catalyst remains active over a very wide voltage range, that allows easy coupling with a second catalyst,” Qi said. “So we use the second catalyst, which is a copper nanowire, and by combining these two we have a very selective process that has up to 60% efficiency going from CO2 to ethylene in one pot.”
Read more at DOE/Ames Laboratory
Image: Left: Visual of the composite catalyst. Top Middle: This image shows the porous structure of the Ni-NAC aspect of the composite catalyst. The light blue represents the atomically dispersed Ni, the blue represents the Nitrogen, and the red shows the Carbon in the structure. Bottom Middle: This is a visualization of the copper nanowires. Right: These illustrate the Ni-NAC catalyzed reduction of CO2 into CO atoms by applying an electrical charge, then additional electrical addition causes the reaction of CO to produce ethylene. (Credit: DOE/Ames Laboratory)