Queen’s University researches how to turn carbon dioxide into sustainable fuel

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Queen’s University researches how to transform carbon dioxide into sustainable fuel
While the world struggles to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, researchers out of Queen's University are developing a complementary approach: to capture CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into sustainable fuel. – Oct 20, 2022

Researchers out of Queen’s University are developing an approach to help fight climate change, creating a system to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and turn it into sustainable fuel.

“Every single process will have some carbon footprint so we cannot stop producing the CO2 even though we use clean energy,” said Cao Thang Dinh, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Queen’s University, in an interview with Global News.

Dinh says it’s a three-pronged approach. Firstly, his team is researching how to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals like methane, methanol and ethanol that can be used as fuels. They are also hoping to develop technology that would use carbon dioxide to produce other chemicals that are used to create plastics, nylon, silicone, and other materials and look for ways to convert electricity from wind or solar energy, into liquid fuel.

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“If we can make this technology work you can provide fertilize, clean fuels like water and fertiliser for everyone, especially for people in developing countries,” Dinh said.

One of the major challenges, he says, is the amount of energy needed for the conversion process itself. While other researchers are working on similar technology, Dinh says his lab’s focus is more energy efficient.

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“What we are doing is that we are trying to combine them together so that we do not need high purity CO2 and we do not need to separate the products so we skip the two important steps so in the end we can use the CO2 directly from the air and make pure products and that improves the overall efficiency of the process,” Dinh said.

While CO2 conversion is still in the early stages, Dinh says in the next three to five years we will see the scale-up of products using this technology.

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