Researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have invented a catalyst that can convert carbon dioxide (CO2) into carbon monoxide efficiently. The invention, for which a patent application is pending, provides a sustainable application for CO2, an active greenhouse gas which has been linked to climate change. Should the catalyst prove to be successful on a large scale, then it could be used to convert CO2 into usable chemical compounds.

Carbon dioxide is a trace gas in Earth's atmosphere that plays a role in regulating the surface temperature of the Earth because it traps heat. Although it is an important part of the carbon cycle, CO2 is also known as an active greenhouse gas. As a consequence of human actions, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily increasing since the industrial revolution. Currently this increase is considered to be one of the reasons for increased global temperatures.
Researchers Gnanakumar and Raveendran, both working at the UvA-wide research center Sustainable Chemistry, have now discovered a catalyst that can convert CO2 in an efficient manner and under relatively moderate circumstances into CO. This CO can subsequently be converted into a number of common carbohydrates using existing technology. In this way an efficient technique has been created to process CO2.

The activities around the CO2 catalyst take place in the framework of the European research project CAPITA (Catalytic Processes for Innovative Technology Application), which is jointly financed by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Dutch Organization for Scientific Research).