Chemists have found a new carbon capture catalyst that assures a more sustainable usage of CO2. The new catalyst is molybdenum disulfide and it turns carbon dioxide into methanol. The new method is very efficient in transforming CO2 into a commercially viable product and thus can facilitate the carbon capture, utilization and storage industry.
Dehui Deng, a professor at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics (DICP) said that the proposed way “provides a novel strategy for the development of new catalysts to be used in CO2 hydrogenation”.
The researchers from DICP were trying to replace commercial metal-oxide catalysts to make methanol. The reason for that is because metal-oxide catalysts are quite energy intensive.
They need temperatures above 300°C and they also make a lot of carbon monoxide (CO) as a by-product. Transition-metal catalysts that can be added to the reaction to lower the temperature, also don’t work because they make a lot of methane (CH4) as well.
A molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) compound has less sulphur than normal which leaves atom-sized gaps in its surface. The gaps catalyse the production of methanol by forming active sites for the CO2 and hydrogen to react. That makes the reaction much more selective, with more methanol formed.
The benefits of the reaction with the new carbon capture catalyst are:
- it works at room temperature or 180°C for optimum effect vs the traditional 300°C
- it works for a long time – the molybdenum disulfide could convert CO2 into methanol for over 3000 hours without a drop in selectivity or efficiency
- fewer by-products like carbon monoxide or methane
Further experiments and trials will be performed to confirm the catalyst’s efficiency but it appears that a new, more sustainable way of carbon capture and storage seems to have been achieved. Together with new breakthroughs in carbon capture filters, it’s evident that different commercial approaches for carbon capture at scale are becoming viable.