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CO2 chemical conversion to useful products: An engineering insight to the latest advances toward sustainability

Authors

  • Amin Taheri Najafabadi

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    • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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Correspondence: Amin Taheri Najafabadi, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The University of British Columbia, 2360 East Mall, Vancouver BC, V6T 1Z3, Canada.

E-mail: ataheri@chbe.ubc.ca

SUMMARY

In the fossil-fuel-based economies, current remedies for the CO2 reduction from large-scale energy consumers (e.g. power stations and cement works) mainly rely on carbon capture and storage, having three proposed generic solutions: post-combustion capture, pre-combustion capture, and oxy fuel combustion. All the aforementioned approaches are based on various physical and chemical phenomena including absorption, adsorption, and cryogenic capture of CO2. The purified carbon dioxide is sent for the physical storage options afterwards, using the earth as a gigantic reservoir with unknown long-term environmental impacts as well as possible hazards associated with that. Consequently, the ultimate solution for the CO2 sequestration is the chemical transformation of this stable molecule to useful products such as fuels (through, for example, Fischer–Tropsch chemistry) or polymers (through successive copolymerization and chain growth). This sustainably reduces carbon emissions, taking full advantage of CO2-derived chemical commodities, so-called carbon capture and conversion. Nevertheless, the surface chemistry of CO2 reduction is a challenge due to the presence of large energy barriers, requiring noticeable catalysis. This work aims to review the most recent advances in this concept selectively (CO2 conversion to fuels and CO2 copolymerization) with chemical engineering approach in terms of both materials and process design. Some of the most promising studies are expanded in detail, concluding with the necessity of subsidizing more research on CO2 conversion technologies considering the growing global concerns on carbon management. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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