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Synthesis of cyclic carbonates from CO2 emissions


University of Newcastle, School of Chemistry and University Research Centre in Catalysis and Intensified Processing,Bedson Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom


There is currently considerable interest in the use of  CO2 as a chemical feedstock. In this article, the requirements for the effective use of CO2 as part of a carbon capture and utilization process to enhance the financial viability of carbon capture and storage are discussed. These are then illustrated with work done on the development of catalysts for the synthesis of cyclic carbonates from epoxides and CO2 in flue-gas at one bar pressure and 20-100oC in both batch and gas-phase flow reactors.


Since the industrial revolution, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen from 280 ppm to 385 ppm (1) as a result of fossil fuel combustion to generate the energy needed to support our current standard of living. There is now global acceptance that this is producing significant changes to planet Earth (shrinking of polar ice caps, retreat of glaciers etc.) which may result in severe climate changes in the near future. At present, technology does not allow any other energy source (fission, fusion, wind, tidal, solar, etc.) to replace fossil fuel combustion as mankind’s primary energy source. Therefore, if atmospheric CO2 levels are to be stabilized, then the atmospheric CO2 emissions currently associated with such energy production must be avoided. For fixed site CO2 producers such as fossil fuel power stations, carbon capture and storage (CCS) is envisaged as the solution to this problem (1, 2). However, CCS has been shown to be a very expensive process to operate as it is energy intensive. Rather than just storing (i.e. dumping) the CO2, an alternative would be to recognise that CO2 is a valuable source of carbon which can be utilized in the p ...