Catalysts for capturing carbon dioxide for polymer synthesis

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The need to find utility from waste

The ever-worsening climate crisis presents a pressing challenge for governments, industry, and scientists. CO2 contributes to global warming by absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation, and this is particularly problematic due to its long atmospheric lifespan.

Alongside reduction of CO2 emissions, a core strategy to lower CO2 impact is the utilisation of waste CO2 in the manufacture of more-desired products, simultaneously reducing raw material consumption. CO2 contributes to global warming by absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation and this is particularly problematic due to its long atmospheric lifespan.

The high stability of CO2 makes it difficult to be used as a chemical feedstock and needs to be overcome before CO2 processing can be industrially viable. This may be done either by investing vast amounts of energy, thereby limiting the environmental and economic gain or by using specific catalysts which increase the efficiency of CO2 conversion.

Technology Overview

Oxford researchers have developed a novel bimetallic catalyst for ring-opening copolymerisation by CO2. This reaction is used in the synthesis of polyols, polycarbonates, polyurethanes, mixed polymers and terpolymers.
This Oxford-developed catalysts brings several advantages over the present offering, Including:

  • No co-catalyst is required
  • Enhanced catalytic performance over constituent elements
  • High selectivity for polycarbonate polyols using alkylene oxides
  • High activity for alternating copolymerisation under a range of conditions
  • Easy to integrate into current infrastructure and processes due to operational overlap with common procedures
  • Low-cost material composition

Commercialisation

Oxford University Innovation Ltd. has filed a priority patent application on the technology and welcomes discussion with companies interested in licensing it for commercial development.

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