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Electrolyzer efficiently converts CO2 into renewable propane fuel

An exciting new development in green energy technology has recently emerged from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT).

Promising Green Energy Breakthrough: New Electrolyzer Converts CO2 into Propaneefficiently converting carbon dioxide into propane using inexpensive and readily available materials. This breakthrough, detailed in a paper published in Nature Energy,  offers considerable promise in helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions and developing renewable chemical manufacturing.

“Making renewable chemical manufacturing is really important,” explains Mohammad Asadi, who spearheaded the study. “It’s the best way to close the carbon cycle without losing the chemicals we currently use daily.”

What makes this electrolyzer so innovative is its unique catalytic system. It leverages inexpensive metal and organic compounds to produce propane, a widely used fuel comprised of three carbon atoms. Until now, converting CO2 into complex multi-carbon molecules like propane has proven extremely challenging.

By employing a combination of experiments and computational modeling, the team gained a deep understanding of how their novel catalyst achieves high reaction activity and selectivity towards propane. These insights illuminated key factors influencing the catalyst’s performance and stability.

A major advantage of this technology is its implementation of a continuous-flow electrolyzer design. This enables the non-stop, scalable production of propane, overcoming limitations of conventional batch-style CO2 conversion systems. The engineering of this lab-scale prototype demonstrates IIT’s commitment to developing commercially viable sustainable energy solutions.

The research aligns with national efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It has attracted acclaim and support from government agencies like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. IIT has also partnered with global propane company SHV Energy to optimize and disseminate this important innovation.

“This is an exciting development which opens up a new e-fuel pathway to on-purpose propane production for the benefit of global users of this essential fuel,” says Keith Simons of SHV Energy.

With immense potential for reducing industrial carbon emissions, this electrolyzer technology marks a significant step towards sustainable, renewable chemical manufacturing. Dr. Asadi and his colleagues’ pioneering research offers hope for a greener energy future.

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