A team of researchers from the University of Toronto is looking to give wasted materials new value by developing a new catalyst that could help recycle carbon dioxide into plastic.
According to a new study, the researchers have successfully used a new technique to efficiently convert carbon dioxide to ethylene, which can then be processed to make polyethylene, the most common plastic used in making packaging, bottles, and toys.
By using a copper catalyst, the team was able to achieve the desired result of ethylene production. However, controlling the catalyst was one of the technological challenges the team had to overcome.
This from Canadian Light Source:
They were able to design a catalyst and pinpoint the ideal conditions to maximize ethylene production while minimizing the methane output to nearly nothing.
Paired with carbon capture technology, this could lead to an incredibly green production mechanism for everyday plastics, meanwhile sequestering harmful greenhouse gases.
“I think the future will be filled with technologies that make value out of waste,” said Phil De Luna, lead researcher on the project, in a statement. “It’s exciting because we are working towards developing new and sustainable ways to meet the energy demands of the future.”