Harnessing Applied Potential for Sunlight Driven CO2 Utilization
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Escalating CO2 emissions due to increasing fossil fuel consumption is generally acknowledged as one of the major contributors to global warming. Therefore, the development of methods for reducing the amount of CO2 released is a major challenge with significant societal consequences. Pressures on fossil fuel resources in the coming decades also mean that raw materials for the chemical industry must be found that can reduce our reliance on fossil fuel-based feedstocks. One promising approach towards reducing our reliance on fossil fuel based raw materials for chemical synthesis is to use CO2 from the atmosphere as a starting material. We herein report an electrosynthetic process for converting atmospheric CO2 into organic molecules (cyclic carbonates (5, 6 and 7 membered rings), acyclic carbonates, carbamates and alcohols) that is powered by sunlight. This is one of only a handful of approaches that activates CO2 at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature, and provides a step change in the area.
See for example our initial communication in the area: Electrosynthesis of Cyclic Carbonates from Epoxides and Atmospheric Pressure Carbon Dioxide, Benjamin R. Buckley, Anish P. Patel and K. G. Upul Wijayantha. Chem. Commun. 2011, 47, 11888-11890.
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