Carbon utilisation for a greener future

The Challenge

To reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) from our atmosphere by capturing it, and converting it into products that Industry can use. Ideally, this should be deployed around the world, however it is currently very expensive, with one company estimating that it costs $600 to capture one tonne of CO2. The COcaptured has a low market value, even as little as $20/tonne.

The method

Dr Rudd is based at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) and is part of the Reducing Carbon Emissions (RICE) project. To address the cost issue, Dr Rudd, alongside other ESRI researchers , is focusing on something more lucrative and more aligned to the circular economy. The team are turning carbon dioxide into commercial products using a process called electrochemical reduction. In this processes, COis captured and reacted with renewable energy, turning it into products that have a higher value.
An example of product is propanol. Propanol burns a lot more cleanly than petrol and diesel – and is something we could potentially use in cars in the future.

Reduced Industrial Carbon Emissions (RICE) Operation has been part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Close up 3d cubes

The impact

  • Dr Rudd has used the above method to create a variety of different useful products including propanol, which has a high value.
  • The method also allows for the conversion of COinto products such as formic acid which can be used as a cleaning product and acetic acid, a pickling agent
  • A further high-value product of this reaction is ethylene, the basis for poly(ethylene), one of the most commonly used plastics. The potential of using global ethylene derived from carbon dioxide (CO2) is huge, potentially utilising half a billion tonnes of the carbon dioxide emitted each year .
  • Dr Rudd also leads an interdisciplinary project engaging key stage 3 students with their carbon footprints

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Swansea University Research Themes