Synergetic interaction between neighbouring platinum monomers in CO hydrogenation
© Florian Gaertner/Getty
Recycling of carbon dioxide could be made more efficient by ramping up reactions in catalytic converters.
Reacting carbon dioxide with molecular hydrogen, a chemical reaction known as hydrogenation, converts the greenhouse gas into useful chemicals. It thus could be used to recycle excess carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels.
A team led by researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China formed a catalyst carbon dioxide hydrogenation by loading platinum molecules onto a sheet of metal molybdenum disulphide. They then gradually increased the density of platinum. When two thirds of the platinum molecules were less than 3 nanometres apart, the reaction with carbon dioxide created both formic acid — a useful chemical for preserving livestock food — and methanol, an alternative to petrol. When the platinum molecules were further apart, carbon dioxide was only converted into methanol.
Tweaking the properties of carbon dioxide hydrogenation catalysts could lead to more energy-efficient recycling of carbon dioxide.
- Nature Nanotechnology 13, 411–417 (2018). doi: 10.1038/s41565-018-0089-z