Low-Temperature CO2 Valorization

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Martin Nielsen


Technical University of Denmark


DKK 4,995,165




Semper Ardens: Accelerate


The goal of my project is to develop a catalytic system that effectively transforms CO2 to industrially useful chemical building blocks under very mild conditions. The catalytic system employs a two-step process consisting of a CO2 capturing part and a utilization part. Hence, a rational design of both the CO2 capture component and the transformation catalyst is essential to reach high activity at low temperature and pressure. I will demonstrate cheap and benign production of the C1 building blocks, formic acid and methanol. Both products are large-scale industrial commodities used in a plethora of industry processes. In addition, they are promising candidates as energy carriers for a future sustainable energy grid.


This project will contribute to the development of a future sustainable society. I will do so by developing an unprecedented effective catalytic system for transforming CO2. In more detail, I will reveal that careful tailoring of the CO2 capture part to the transformation part has a powerful effect on catalytic CO2 valorization. In fact, I will prove that it becomes feasible to valorize CO2 under extraordinarily mild conditions by following my approach. Thus, my findings will not only become key to understanding the importance of cooperative catalysis for small molecule transformations, they will also contribute to paving the way for benign and effective CO2 valorization processes.


We will employ homogeneous organotransition metal catalysis in highly polar solvents for the thermochemical transformation of captured CO2. We will use applied pressures of gaseous mixtures of CO2 and H2 at various temperatures to facilitate the CO2 conversion to either formic acid or methanol. For the optimization process, especially the combination of catalyst and solvent will be of focus, for which qualitative and quantitative analyses of both liquid- and gas phases will ensure a rational approach. The team will consist of two postdocs and a PhD student.

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