New CO2 Fixing Catalyst Turns It into Oxalate
A copper-based catalyst recently developed by Elisabeth Bouwman and co-workers at Leiden University in the Netherlands represents a vast improvement over previous atmospheric carbon-dioxide-fixing processes. Most of these are poisoned by oxygen, which means that you can’t just pump air into the reactor without removing the oxygen first. Bouwman’s catalyst, however, reacts with carbon dioxide but not oxygen, producing oxalate, which is a useful feedstock for the manufacture of methyl glycolate and other organic compounds. And while Bouwman’s material is not a “true” catalyst in that it actually forms a compound with carbon dioxide and has to be regenerated in a second reaction, the regeneration step can be done electrochemically with remarkably little energy.