Leader of WP1: Prof. Sascha Ott, Uppsala University
NordCO2 will focus its research efforts on two areas:
I) Conversion of CO2 to chemicals and pharmaceuticals
II) Energy storage
I) Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals: With depleting oil resources, it is essential to develop technologies to convert the alternative carbon source CO2 to the products required to maintain the current quality of life in the Nordic societies. Several industries already utilize CO2 in chemical syntheses, such as in the production of urea and aromatic carboxylic acids. However, currently only ~0.1% of CO2 on Earth is exploited in chemical synthesis. The main reason for this is the lack of efficient and selective technologies for transformation of CO2 into useful products. CO2 conversion can be achieved through activation by catalysts, which can be organic, organometallic, or hybrid materials such as MOFs. NordCO2 will focus on developing catalytic methods for using CO2 as a carbon source to obtain chemical building blocks, which can be used to form pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, and plastic-type polymers.
II) Energy storage: Mankind’s need for energy is undisputed and predicted to triple until 2050, which requires the development of renewable energy sources, e.g. from wind or the sun. The conversion of solar and wind energy to electricity is well developed, however, energy demand is not only a demand for electricity, but also a demand for fuel. Conversion of renewable energies to fuel is highly underdeveloped, despite of its grave importance in the future. Another aspect is that electricity produced by e.g. solar or wind technology is highly fluctuating, making it essential to be able to store renewable energy in chemical fuels, which can be converted back to electricity on demand. Central to these technologies is the development of catalysts that can store energy by converting CO2 to chemical fuel molecules, such as formate, formaldehyde, methanol, and methane. The type of fuel formed depends on the catalyst and the reaction conditions, and in most cases, a mixture of products is obtained. NordCO2 will focus on the development of catalysts of abundant transition metals for the electrochemical and photochemical reduction of CO2 to CO and other fuels (e.g. formate, methanol, ethylene, ethanol, and propanol), and on the incorporation and immobilization of the most efficient catalysts into MOFs and solid supports, in particular in three-dimensional (photo)electrodes that will give rise to high current densities during catalytic turnover.