European grant for converting greenhouse gas into valuable liquid chemicals

ERC Proof of Concept grant for Bert Weckhuysen

The European Research Council has awarded a Proof of Concept grant of 150,000 euros to a team of Utrecht catalysis researchers led by Prof. Bert Weckhuysen. The researchers will use the money to further develop methods for converting CO2 into valuable liquid chemicals. The ERC Proof of Concept grants are intended to explore the commercial and innovative potential of ERC-funded research.

The world has recognized the need to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to limit global warming. Simultaneously, the recent surge in the production of natural gas, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, has made the efficient conversion of methane (CH4) into liquid fuels and commodity chemicals a key research target, especially in a system capable of operating at remote gas wells. The conversions of CH4 and CO2 are interconnected goals, as both are difficult to activate C1 molecules.

More efficient process

A promising strategy is their transformation to easily transported liquid chemicals, which is particularly attractive because this conversion not only reduces emissions into the atmosphere, but also produces commodity chemicals that can be either used as fuels or as precursors for many industrial processes. The project aims to develop a more efficient process that directly converts in combo CH4 and CO2 into high-value chemicals. More specifically, a zeolite ZSM-5 membrane reactor will be developed that can effectively convert a mixture of CH4 and CO2 into hydrocarbons, especially aromatics including benzene, a versatile platform molecule for the chemical industry.