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From pollutant to profit -- nanoscience turns carbon on its head
Date:3/23/2010

College London a research team led by Dr Charlotte Williams will reduce CO2 with hydrogen, electrical energy or photon energy to produce vehicle fuels.

To achieve this, they will develop nanostructured catalysts that operate using solar or other renewable energy inputs. These will be used in a process that mimics CO2 activation in nature an 'artificial leaf' concept that effectively reverses the polluting process of burning fossil fuels. The team will collaborate with industrial partners Millennium Inorganic Chemicals, Cemex, Johnson Matthey and E.ON.

Dr Williams, of Imperial College London, says: "The key economic issue lies in decreasing the energy required for the processes. We hope to achieve this by developing new, highly active metal/metal oxide nanostructured catalysts, which offer superior performance."

Carbon lock-in

The Universities of Bath, Bristol and the West of England are working together to produce materials that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it into useful products.

At the heart of the project, led by Dr Frank Marken at the University of Bath, will be a one-step process that links catalysts directly with a novel CO2 absorber, and is powered by solar or an alternative renewable energy source. The resulting 'carbon lock-in' products include polymers, carbohydrates or fuels.

Dr Marken says: "Current processes rely on using separate technology to capture and utilise the CO2, which makes the process very inefficient. By combining the processes the efficiency can be improved and the energy required to drive the CO2 reduction is minimised."

The projects are part of Research Councils UK (RCUK) cross-Council programme 'Nanoscience: through Engineering to Application'. www.rcuk.ac.uk/nano

As part of the selection process, researchers were asked to consider potential environmental, health, societal and ethical concerns that may
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Contact: EPSRC Press Office
pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk
44-179-344-4404
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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