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Breakthrough CO2-to-CO conversion tech offers steel sector carbon capture & energy savings

IndiaBreakthrough CO2-to-CO conversion tech offers steel sector carbon capture & energy savings

A cutting-edge, energy-efficient carbon dioxide (CO2) capture process has been developed, offering the potential for significant carbon capture and energy savings in the steel industry. This innovative technology transforms carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide under electro catalytic conditions, all at ambient temperatures and in the presence of water.

As part of India’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070, the National Centre of Excellence in Carbon Capture and Utilization (NCoE-CCU) at IIT Bombay, supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), has been actively engaged in the development of scalable and cost-effective methods for capturing CO2 emissions from diverse sources. The conversion of CO2 into usable chemicals or permanent storage holds immense promise for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions, a pivotal step in combating climate change.

A significant breakthrough in this endeavor has now been achieved, with a team of researchers led by Dr. Arnab Dutta and Dr. Vikram Vishal, alongside dedicated scholars at the National Centre, securing a patent for their CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO) conversion technology. This groundbreaking innovation has also garnered recognition and acceptance for publication in the esteemed international journal, Nature Communications.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a widely used chemical compound in various industries, particularly in the form of synthesis gas (syn gas). Within the steel industry, CO plays a pivotal role in transforming iron ores into metallic iron within blast furnaces. Presently, CO is produced through the partial oxidation of coke or coal, resulting in significant CO2 emissions as a byproduct. The conversion of emitted CO2 back into CO represents an opportunity to establish a circular economy in this process, significantly reduce carbon footprints, and lower associated costs.

Conventionally, CO2 to CO conversion processes occur at elevated temperatures (400-750 °C) and require an equivalent amount of hydrogen (H2) to facilitate the reaction, making the process highly energy-intensive.

The new CO2 to CO conversion process pioneered by IIT Bombay’s NCoE-CCU stands out for its minimal energy consumption. This groundbreaking technology operates at ambient temperatures (25-40 °C) in the presence of water. Moreover, the energy required for the electrocatalysis reaction can be directly harnessed from renewable sources like solar panels or windmills, establishing a carbon-neutral operational framework for facile CO2 to CO conversion.

The potential applications of this technology span various industries, with a focus on scaling up its implementation in the steel sector. To further expedite this technology’s integration, a startup named UrjanovaC Private Limited has been incubated. The company will actively explore the technology’s application within the steel industry, offering a greener and more sustainable approach to carbon management.

Additionally, the DST-supported NCoE-CCU has also licensed another technology related to aqueous-based CO2 capture and conversion to calcium carbonate. This technology is emerging as a critical solution in the carbon capture landscape and is also being pursued by UrjanovaC Private Limited through its incubation at SINE, IIT Bombay.

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