We investigate how to build a chemical process that makes synergies between smart and clean technologies
We are a novel research consortium that combines multiple unique expertise present within Flanders, Belgium. Our investigation serves the dual purpose of reducing CO2 emissions while creating new opportunities for the chemical industry, thus helping overall to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Our action against the rising concentrations of CO2 starts with the capture of CO2 from gas streams. If we obtain purified CO2, this can be combined with other materials to produce valuable goods. The venture is to produce methanol, methane (and other value-added chemicals) by mixing CO2 with renewable hydrogen. The powerful trick to boost an efficient chemical mix is to find and use selective catalysts that are active at milder reaction conditions. All the mentioned technologies can work independently and also together in a modular assembly, forming a versatile device that we have called Methatanor.
There are two main questions we address during our investigation. First, what are the effects of the different CO2 sources and impurities. Second, to know if CO2 capture directly from the open air can be integrated in the methatanor. During our research journey we are also going to investigate scientific breakthroughs ideas, or blue sky research.
The Methatanor is a multifunctional device to produce solar fuels and chemicals. It includes all the multiple expertise of CATCO2RE and it is the very expression of its name, meaning that waste CO2 is recycled and synthesize with H2 to produce methane.
To put all the pieces that form the methatanor together is technically very cumbersome. We would need to find a physical space where gas streams occur near a sunny area, with a photovoltaic device and setups to produce CO2 purification and solar hydrogen production. A realistic and practical solution is to design the methatanor as a modular device that has separated units for each part of the production chain. These units can assemble with the rest in a decentralized fashion.
Methanol and methane are valuable fuels and excellent energy carriers. Methanol is also a building block and a precursor to commodity chemicals. The current production of methanol and methane is not sustainable: it relies on fossil fuels, which costs are heavily linked to the volatile price of natural gas. Our Methatanor can become a real alternative to this industry, being not only overall more sustainable but also economically competitive.