Carbon airgel will help reduce the greenhouse effect

(ORDO NEWS) — TPU scientists together with colleagues from Zhejiang University (China) have synthesized an efficient catalyst based on carbon airgel for industry.

It will reduce carbon monoxide emissions, which are formed in many industrial processes, and process it into a useful product.

The catalyst will be more efficient and cheaper to manufacture compared to existing analogues.

The results of the study by specialists from the TPU TERS-Team scientific group and their Chinese colleagues.

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) is a by-product of many industrial processes that is a pollutant. Increasing its concentration in the atmosphere is the main cause of the greenhouse effect.

This problem can be solved by processing carbon dioxide to obtain a useful product at the output.

One option is to use CO₂ to produce fuel, in particular energy methane. Usually, special catalysts based on noble metals and their alloys are used for this purpose.

Some of them are expensive, others are subject to corrosion, which quickly lose their properties.

Therefore, the world scientific community is faced with the task of developing new metal-free catalysts that will be efficient, stable and will be created using available materials.

China have developed a catalyst based on carbon airgel. Airgel is a material that is made from a carbon precursor and is lightweight.

The principal feature of airgel is its high porosity. It provides gas access to the active centers of the catalyst, which is necessary for their effective interaction.

“The catalyst is a porous airgel framework in which active sites are formed where the reaction will take place. Usually carbon doped with nitrogen is used for such reactions.

But these catalysts have a drawback – they are non-selective, that is, in addition to the reduction of carbon dioxide, they trigger other chemical reactions that lead to the appearance of unnecessary by-products and reduce the efficiency of the process.

We used a combination of nitrogen and phosphorus in the airgel, which allowed it to effectively launch exactly the reaction that we need,” says Raul Rodriguez, professor at TPU Research School of Chemical and Biomedical Technologies.

In production, the process of interaction between gas and catalyst is as follows. The gas passes through a special cell filled with airgel.

The airgel serves as an electrode, and when a current is applied, a reaction is started that takes place directly on the surface of the catalyst.

As a result, a functional group of carboxylic acids (*COOH) is formed. This by-product can be used in a wide variety of useful chemical reactions.

In laboratory experiments, scientists have proven that the catalyst remains stable at current strengths typical of industrial electrolytic systems.

The researchers plan to develop similar catalysts that can be used for the reduction of nitrogen and oxygen. “There is a lot of nitrogen in the atmosphere.

It is in a stable form and practically does not react. If we manage to break the bond, we will get a more active form of this gas, capable of participating in various chemical reactions.

In the future, such nitrogen compounds can be used, for example, for the production of fertilizers,” comments Raul Rodriguez.


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