Recycling of carbon dioxide to methanol and derived products – closing the loop
Starting with coal, followed by petroleum oil and natural gas, the utilization of fossil fuels has allowed the fast and unprecedented development of human society. However, the burning of these resources in ever increasing pace is accompanied by large amounts of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, which are outpacing the natural carbon cycle, causing adverse global environmental changes, the full extent of which is still unclear. Even through fossil fuels are still abundant, they are nevertheless limited and will, in time, be depleted. Chemical recycling of CO2 to renewable fuels and materials, primarily methanol, offers a powerful alternative to tackle both issues, that is, global climate change and fossil fuel depletion. The energy needed for the reduction of CO2 can come from any renewable energy source such as solar and wind. Methanol, the simplest C1 liquid product that can be easily obtained from any carbon source, including biomass and CO2, has been proposed as a key component of such an anthropogenic carbon cycle in the framework of a “Methanol Economy”. Methanol itself is an excellent fuel for internal combustion engines, fuel cells, stoves, etc. It's dehydration product, dimethyl ether, is a diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) substitute. Furthermore, methanol can be transformed to ethylene, propylene and most of the petrochemical products currently obtained from fossil fuels. The conversion of CO2 to methanol is discussed in detail in this review.
- This article is part of the themed collection: CO2 Capture and Chemical Recycling to Chemicals, Fuels and Materials: Enabling Technologies