Thursday, April 16, 2009

Singapore scientists say can turn CO2 into biofuel

A sticker is seen on the car of an eco-friendly team that completed a "Grease to Greece" rally from London to Athens August 27, 2008. REUTERS / Yiorgos Karahalis 

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Scientists in Singapore say they have found a way to turn planet-warming carbon dioxide into clean-burning methanol using a process that uses less energy than previous attempts.

The scientists at the state-backed Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology said on Thursday they used non-toxic organocatalysts to make ethanol, a biofuel that is also used as an industrial feedstock.

In a statement, the institute said the team, led by Yugen Zhang, used N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs), an organocatalyst in the chemical reaction with carbon dioxide.

NHCs are stable and the reaction between NHCs and carbon dioxide can take place under mild conditions in dry air, the statement said, adding only a small amount of the catalyst was needed.

The process also used hydrosilane, a combination of silica and hydrogen.

"Hydrosilane provides hydrogen, which bonds with carbon dioxide in a reduction reaction. This carbon dioxide reduction is efficiently catalyzed by NHCs even at room temperature," Zhang said in the statement.

"Methanol can be easily obtained from the product of the carbon dioxide reaction," Zhang added. …

Singapore scientists say can turn CO2 into biofuel

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