Combined Carbon Capture and Conversion using Multifunctional Porous Materials

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Chemical Engineering


The rapid increase in CO2 emissions from industrial sources has been considered as one of the main causes of climate change. The reduction of CO2 emissions can be achieved by improving energy efficiency, implementing renewable carbon-free energy sources, and developing carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. Worldwide energy use will continue increasing; thus, CCUS could provide an immediate solution to the global carbon imbalance. Until now, the CCUS technologies have been developed independently of one another, which has resulted in complex and economically challenged large-scale designs. For instance, questions like: "How do we link CO2 capture and CO2 conversion technologies?" or "What is the optimal form in which captured CO2 be provided to the CO2 conversion unit?" are often left for later considerations. A CCUS platform that facilitates the direct use of captured CO2 as a chemical feedstock would thus represent a significant advancement in the field, and lead to more sustainable operations. In this endeavour, multifunctional materials have a key role to play owing to their structural, mechanical and chemical versatility.
With this in mind, the current project aims at developing advanced porous materials that can be used to both capture CO2 and subsequently convert it to useful chemicals using sunlight. When converting CO2, the materials are simultaneously regenerated, thereby enhancing the sustainability of the overall process.

Planned Impact

The main (non academic) beneficiaries of this research project include:
(i) Industries producing advanced materials such as MOFs. If successful, this project will allow them to explore other markets, e.g. in the area of CO2 conversion and more generally photocatalysis.
(ii) Companies working on the conversion of CO2 to useful products (most are newly formed entities). This research will enable them to diversify their activities in order to cover a broader range of CO2-derived products. On the longer run, the work may also be used by the fossil fuels and refineries sector who could integrate the proposed technology as part of their carbon management and chemical production processes.
(iii) General public. This project will participate in changing the view we have on CO2 from just a greenhouse gas to a useful chemical feedstock. If people believe in the benefit of reusing CO2, they will be encouraged to push for CO2 capture at a national and even international level.

In order to reach these potential beneficiaries, an impact plan has been developed which includes: a targeted workshop involving academics and industrialists, engagement with the general public via public events and collaboration with the Grantham Institute, the training of skilled researchers and the dissemination of the findings at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
Description 1) Provided a proof-of-concept study showing how porous crystalline materials can be used to not only capture CO2 but also photoreduce it; 2) Showed how metal-organic frameworks can be part of heterojunctions used for CO2 photoreduction to enhance the performance compared to 'single-phase' materials; 3) Provided insight into the role of materials porosity and morphology on CO2 capture and photoreduction.
Exploitation Route The findings of this project will: 1) impact the research community working on CO2 photo reduction materials, providing them with new directions for research for the development of better catalysts, 2) impact the industrial community by providing further confidence through this proof-of-concept study on the potential of combined CO2 capture and conversion. These findings have been made available through peer-review publications (available through the group website) and conferences presentations.
Sectors Chemicals,Energy,Environment

Description (THEIA) - Design and engineering of porous nitride-based materials as a platform for CO2 photoreduction
Amount € 1,498,934 (EUR)
Funding ID 850624 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 02/2020 
End 01/2025
Description Royal Society of Chemistry Scientific Meetings Grant
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Society of Chemistry 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2018 
End 06/2018
Description The power of nothing - Participation in outreach activity as part of Imperial Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was an outreach project, whose goal was to raise awareness on the importance of environmental protection, particularly CO2 capture, highlight the role of scientists in this regard, provide basic knowledge of related materials chemistry through a hands-on experiment. This experiment involved the use of porous materials as adsorbents. It was presented as part of Imperial Festival 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018