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C02 into reusable products?

An Engineer from the University of Sydney, in collaboration with the University of Toronto, has developed an electro-chemical system which converts greater amounts of CO2 into re-usable products.

The International Energy Agency has cited carbon capture and storage as a strategy that can help to keep global emissions low. However, the capturing method currently has little economic value.

The team aimed to address this issue by designing advanced electrolysers, machines that use electricity to convert captured CO2 and water to create materials such as plastic and lycra.

Dr Fengwang Li, from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering said the trial will enable further recycling in the future.

“Previous systems operated in alkaline or neutral conditions, meaning most of the CO2 was wasted, and would be converted into carbonate instead. By contrast, our process, using high acidity, retains CO2 at rates of up to 70 percent,” Li said.

Previous systems typically utilised less than 15 percent of the available CO2, losing the rest to carbonate. The new system utilises about 77 percent of available CO2, with more than 50 percent being converted to multi-carbon products.

Upgrades are required to be made on the system before it can be scaled up to an industrial level.