Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A cheaper drive to 'cool' fuels

Date:
June 21, 2013
Source:
University of Delaware
Summary:
Chemists have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels.

Joel Rosenthal (left) and doctoral student John DiMeglio at work in Rosenthal's lab in the UD Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Credit: Kathy F. Atkinson

University of Delaware chemist Joel Rosenthal is driven to succeed in the renewable energy arena.

Related Articles


Working in his lab in UD's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Rosenthal and doctoral student John DiMeglio have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, into synthetic fuels for powering cars, homes and businesses.

The research is published in the June 19 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Gold and silver represent the "gold standard" in the world of electrocatalysts for conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. But Rosenthal and his research team have pioneered the development of a much cheaper alternative to these pricey, precious metals. It's bismuth, a silvery metal with a pink hue that's a key ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, the famous pink elixir for settling an upset stomach.

An ounce of bismuth is 50 to 100 times cheaper than an ounce of silver, and 2,000 times cheaper than an ounce of gold, Rosenthal says. Bismuth is more plentiful than gold and silver, it is well distributed globally and is a byproduct in the refining of lead, tin and copper.

Moreover, Rosenthal says his UD-patented catalyst offers other important advantages: selectivity and efficiency in converting carbon dioxide to fuel.

"Most catalysts do not selectively make one compound when combined with carbon dioxide -- they make a whole slew," Rosenthal explains. "Our goal was to develop a catalyst that was extremely selective in producing carbon monoxide and to power the reaction using solar energy."

Many of us hear '"carbon monoxide" and think "poison."

"It's true that you do not want to be in a closed room with carbon monoxide," Rosenthal says. "But carbon monoxide is very valuable as a commodity chemical because it's extremely energy rich and has many uses."

Carbon monoxide is used industrially in the water-gas shift reaction to make hydrogen gas. It also is a prime feedstock for the Fischer-Tropsch process, which allows for the production of synthetic petroleum, gasoline and diesel.

Commercial production of synthetic petroleum is under way or in development in a number of countries, including Australia and New Zealand, China and Japan, South Africa and Qatar.

Rosenthal says that if carbon dioxide emissions become taxed in the future due to continuing concerns about global warming, his solar-driven catalyst for making synthetic fuel will compete even better economically with fossil fuels.

"This catalyst is a critically important linchpin," Rosenthal says. "Using solar energy to drive the production of liquid fuels such as gasoline from CO2 is one of the holy grails in renewable energy research. In order to do this on a practical scale, inexpensive catalysts that can convert carbon dioxide to energy-rich compounds are needed. Our discovery is important in this regard, and demonstrates that development of new catalysts and materials can solve this problem. Chemists have a big role to play in this area."

Rosenthal credits a scientific article published during America's first energy crisis in the 1970s for piquing his interest in bismuth. At that time, many researchers were examining the conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide using electricity and metal electrodes. The research went bust in the early 1980s when federal funding dried up. Rosenthal picked up the trail and blazed a new one.

"With this advance, there are at least a dozen things we need to follow up on," Rosenthal notes. "One successful study usually leads to more questions and possibilities, not final answers."

Rosenthal's lab will be operating at full tilt this summer, exploring some of those questions. And his research team of seven will have some company. Through the American Chemical Society's Project SEED summer research program, budding scientists from nearby Newark High School will join Rosenthal's team for further study of this bismuth-based catalyst.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Delaware. The original article was written by Tracey Bryant. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John L. DiMeglio, Joel Rosenthal. Selective Conversion of CO2to CO with High Efficiency Using an Inexpensive Bismuth-Based Electrocatalyst. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013; 135 (24): 8798 DOI: 10.1021/ja4033549

Cite This Page:

University of Delaware. "A cheaper drive to 'cool' fuels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621095324.htm>.
University of Delaware. (2013, June 21). A cheaper drive to 'cool' fuels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621095324.htm
University of Delaware. "A cheaper drive to 'cool' fuels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130621095324.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Yellow-Spotted Turtles Rescued from Trafficking

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — Hundreds of Amazon River turtles released into the wild in Peru. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins