University students transform carbon dioxide into clean fuel


Scientists from the Materials Research Institute of the UNAM work on the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) using ceramic materials, capable of trapping greenhouse gas at high temperatures to transform it into clean fuel.

In the development of the method, the specialists take advantage of the thermal energy that is wasted by the gas exhaust to capture them, then the CO2 is transformed into a solid compound and then reacted with methane, another greenhouse gas.

From this reaction a product with added value is formed which is the synthesis gas, a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which can be used as a fuel or a source of hydrogen, explained to UNAM Global, the project leader, Heriberto Pfeiffer Perea.

“That mixture alone is capable of being used again as fuel. Therefore, we would be recycling the CO2 produced from some fuel, mixing it with methane and getting another fuel,” added the doctor.

“In this way, a clean cycle is generated, because we do not take more coal from the bottom of the subsoil to emit it to the environment, but the same coal that we use is regenerated to form another fuel that can be used again in combustion processes,” the investigator said.

Pfeiffer Perea stressed that another option with this synthesis gas is to separate hydrogen and carbon monoxide and to use hydrogen for the production of clean energy.

The ceramic materials used are prepared and characterized by the doctor’s work group. In the laboratory, they carry out tests of capture in different conditions of temperature, pressure, flow and concentration, to detect which are able to catch the CO2.

The scientist indicated that at present they have two patent applications before the Mexican Institute of Intellectual Property (IMPI, for its acronym in Spanish).

The first has to do with the production of these materials and their operation in the capture of carbon dioxide. The second is related to the development of the process.

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