CO2 to small molecules

Increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion contributes to global climate change and is one of the major environmental problems facing our planet. One foreseeable solution is to shift to solar-to-hydrogen energy and, at the same time, develop green chemistry using renewable sources of carbon in energy-sustainable processes. Both challenges can be tackled by controlling CO2 chemistry, the former through the reversible H2 + CO2 conversion to formic acid, a nonflammable liquid that is safe to transport and store, and the latter through the development of energetically sustainable processes, fixing moderate to large amounts of CO2 to top chemicals such as methanol, carboxylic acids and carbonates.

The fundamental goal of this project is to develop a portfolio of different chemical processes fixing variable amounts of CO2. To this end, the following specific objectives will be pursued:

  • Improving the reversible hydrogenation of CO2 to formic acid

  • Synthesis of carbonates under ambient conditions

  • Developing a protocol for CO2 fixation through C-H bond activation to carboxylic acid derivatives.


  • Steven Nolan, Full Professor, St. Andrews University, Scotland

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