UK-wide net zero target takes a step forward with CO2 recycling project

Northumbria University

Carbon dioxide and water could be recycled into renewable future fuels under a new system being developed by engineers at Northumbria University.

Funding for this project has been awarded by Northern Accelerator, a partnership between all five of the North East’s universities that supports the creation of innovative businesses based on research by regional academics.

Northumbria University says the £50,000 award will further an existing collaboration between the University and SUEZ recycling and recovery UK which could create a safe and sustainable pipeline of carbon-based fuels made from waste flue gases.

Northern Accelerator is funded by Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund.

Led by Dr Shahid Rasul, a senior lecturer in the University’s Department of Mechanical and Construction Engineering, the university says the team has successfully used an inexpensive copper-based catalyst to convert COinto both gas and liquid fuels.

Carbon monoxide is used in processes such as metal fabrication, drug, alcohol and fragrance manufacture, and industrial and domestic heating. The university says it hopes this development will have a major impact on both society and industry, including the areas of speciality chemical production, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and the metallurgy sector.

The process uses cost-effective and efficient materials and electrolysers that in turn use renewable electricity. The university says the method will produce future fuel more sustainably and generate energy from waste, including landfill waste, and prevent atmospheric emissions by capturing and re-using gases such as methane.

IP Commercialisation Manager at Northumbria University, Dr Carolyn Horrocks, said: “To meet the UK’s ambitious CO2 emission target, it is clear that new technological developments which utilise waste CO2 as a resource are essential.

“With significant expertise in CO2 conversion to CO, Northumbria will, through this collaboration with SUEZ, gain a real understanding of the needs of industry, making Dr Rasul and his team well placed to deliver a proof of concept that could provide a major step forward in this area.”

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