Researchers from the Rice University have developed a unique method to convert a greenhouse gas into liquid fuel. The technology is based on the usage of an electrolyser that can harness renewable electricity to produce fuels. The researchers developed a catalytic reactor that uses carbon dioxide to produce formic acid. The reactor uses carbon dioxide completely to prevent any form of pollution. Hence, the reactor provides an environment-friendly method to produce liquid fuels. The researchers hail this technology as the next-generation method for efficient repurposing of greenhouse gases.
Haotian Wang, lead engineer at the Lab of Chemical and Biomolecular Research at Rice University, led this research. Wang explains that the initial prototype of the reactor could produce high concentration of highly purified formic acid. Other methods used for producing purified formic acid require tremendous amount of energy. Moreover, these methods are costlier than the new technology. Hence, the reactor could pave way for an energy-efficient and clean method for conversion of carbon dioxide. Wang became a part of Rice University to collaborate with its research team for developing innovative products.
Evaluating Efficiency of Formic Acid
Wang and his team of researchers tested the new technology. Further, the scientists found the reactor’s efficiency for energy conversion was 42%. Therefore, almost half the electrical energy can be converted into liquid fuel using formic acid. The ability of formic acid to act as an energy carrier helped in this research. Also, the team of researchers is looking for improved pathways to further increase the efficiency of the reactor.
Formic acid can be converted into a fuel cell, and is even used as feedstock for other chemicals. Further, fuels cells developed from formic acid are much superior to hydrogen-gas fuels. The new research has opened fresh avenues for the development of energy-efficient technologies.