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To counteract climate change, chemists are trying to harness man-made CO2 as a raw material.

Carbon dioxide as a raw material

Chemistry: This chemical reaction could someday make it possible to put the climate-damaging gas to good use.

RUB researchers have found a way to turn climate-damaging CO2 into an alcohol that could serve as a raw material for the chemical industry – without producing the large amounts of salt waste that usually arise. This requires a two-step reaction. The problem: For energy reasons, the two partial reactions are virtually impossible to reconcile. In order to make the processes compatible from a thermodynamic point of view, suitable catalysts are needed to facilitate the partial reactions.

The team around the Bochum chemists Timo Wendling and Prof Dr Lukas Goossen describes a solution to the problem in the journal “Chemistry – A European Journal”.

Catalyst and solvent crucial

The scientists tested numerous substances and finally found two catalysts that had the required properties: a copper compound for the first reaction step and a rhodium/molybdenum compound for the second step. The exact composition and quantity of solvent in which the reaction took place was also crucial.

“We have taken a first important step towards harnessing CO2 for the chemical industry, which would be a great economic and environmental advantage,” says Lukas Goossen, member in the Excellence Cluster Ruhr Explores Solvation, Resolv in short. “But the process has to be significantly improved to be usable on an industrial scale.”


Original Publication:

T. Wendling, E. Risto, T. Krause, L. J. Gooßen, Salt-Free Strategy for the Insertion of CO into C-H Bonds: Catalytic Hydroxymethylation of Alkynes, Chem. Eur. J. 2018, 24

DOI: 10.1002/chem.201800526


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