Research to help find ways of converting into useful products the CO2captured from the emissions of power plants and industrial facilities will be conducted by six projects just funded by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Washington, D.C.

The projects have a total value of approximately $5.9 million over two-to-three years, with $4.4 million of DOE funding and $1.5 million of non-federal cost sharing. The work will be managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Large volumes of CO2are expected to become available as fossil fuel-based power plants and other CO2-emitting industries are equipped with CO2emissions control technologies to comply with regulatory requirements. While DOE efforts are underway to demonstrate the permanent storage of captured CO2through geologic sequestration, there is also a potential opportunity to use CO2as an inexpensive raw material and convert it to beneficial use. The selected projects will develop or improve scalable processes with the potential to use significant amounts of CO2. Captured CO2could be converted into products such as chemicals, fuels, building materials and other commodities.

The six projects are:
  • Research Triangle Institute. Durham, N.C. - RTI will assess the feasibility of producing valuable chemicals such as carbon monoxide by reducing CO2 using abundant low-value carbon sources such as petcoke, sub-bituminous coal, lignite and biomass as the reductant. The team then will evaluate whether additional processes can be added that use the carbon monoxide to produce other marketable chemicals such as aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, anhydrides, esters, amides, imides, carbonates and ureas.
    DOE share: $800,000; recipient share: $200,000; duration: 24 months.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. - Researchers will investigate a novel electrochemical technology that uses CO2 from dilute gas streams generated at industrial carbon emitters, including power plants, as a raw material to produce useful commodity chemicals. This integrated capture and conversion process will be used to produce a number of different chemicals that could replace petroleum-derived products.
    DOE share: $1,000,000; recipient share: $250,067; duration: 24 months.

  • CCS Materials Inc., Piscataway, N.J. - Investigators will attempt to create an energy-efficient, CO2-consuming inorganic binding phase to serve as a high-performing substitute for Portland cement in concrete. The project team will use a novel near-net-shape forming process that uses a binding phase based on carbonation chemistry instead of the hydration chemistry used in Portland cement concrete.
    DOE share: $794,000; recipient share: $545,100; duration: 36 months.

  • Brown University, Providence, R.I. - Researchers will demonstrate the viability of a bench-scale reaction using CO2 and ethylene as reactants to produce valuable acrylate compounds with low-valent molybdenum catalysts. Exploratory experiments will be conducted to identify the factors that control the current catalyst-limiting step in acrylic acid formation.
    DOE share: $417,155; recipient share: $107,460; duration: 24 months.

  • McGill University, Quebec - In collaboration with 3H Co., Lexington, Ky., researchers aim to develop a curing process for the precast concrete industry that uses CO2 as a reactant. To make the process economically feasible, a self-concentrating absorption technology will be studied to produce low-cost CO2 for concrete curing and to capture residual carbon after the process.
    DOE share: $399,960; recipient share: $100,000; duration: 24 months.

  • PhosphorTech Corp., Lithia Springs, Ga. - Investigators will develop and demonstrate an electrochemical process using a light-harvesting CO2 catalyst to reform CO2 into products such as methane gas. Researchers hope to achieve a commercially feasible CO2 reforming process that will produce useful commodities using the entire solar spectrum.
    DOE share: $998,661; recipient share: $249,847; duration: 36 months.