The third smallest sovereign nation in the
world has just made an enormous contribution to relieving the world's
debt to the environment. Singapore researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN)
have discovered how to turn carbon dioxide into methanol.... Double
take: They have found a way to make greenhouse gas green. Triple
take: They took the biggest contributor to the world's carbon footprint and converted it into a source of clean energy for the world. Astounding.
In case you're not jumping out of your skin yet, the IBN research was immediately sent to Angewandte Chemie, published by the German Chemical Society, and the prestigious journal called it a "hot paper," and "very important."
In layman's terms, what IBN researchers discovered is that if they used N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), an organic catalyst, as opposed to heavy metal catalysts, carbon dioxide is activated, a state which it must be in to transform it into something useful.
Then, hydrosilane, a combination of silica and hydrogen, is added to the NHC-activated carbon dioxide and, by adding water into the solution through hydrolysis, the carbon dioxide transforms into methanol.
IBN principal research scientist, Dr. Yugen Zhang, explained: “Hydrosilane provides hydrogen, which bonds with carbon dioxide in a reduction reaction. This carbon dioxide reduction is efficiently
catalyzed by NHCs even at room temperature. Methanol can be easily obtained from the
product of the carbon dioxide reaction. Our previous research on NHCs has demonstrated
their multiple applications as powerful antioxidants to fight degenerative diseases, and as
effective catalysts to transform sugars into an alternative energy source. We have now
shown that NHCs can also be applied successfully to the conversion of carbon dioxide into
methanol, helping to unleash the potential of this highly abundant gas.”
I wonder when this will become front page news....
Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology via Gizmag