Converting emissions into valuable fuel

By Canadian Light Source | July 23, 2020

Researchers used the Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan to improve their technique to convert CO2 into ethanol, a valuable chemical that can be used in a variety of industrial applications. Ethanol is also an attractive alternative fuel.

Ethanol has been proven to reduce emissions when compared to gasoline, but the renewable fuel is most often made of corn and wheat so there is a strong interest in non-food production methods. By capturing and converting carbon emissions to ethanol, the fuel’s environmental benefits could be multiplied.

The research team led by Prof. Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto focused on producing chemicals through CO2 conversion—such as ethanol, ethylene and methane—helping to transform harmful greenhouse gases into useful products. The group aims to produce the target chemicals, in this case ethanol, with high outputs and minimal energy inputs.

This ethanol project is sponsored by the Canadian energy company Suncor, which invests in cleaner, renewable fuel sources, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada, and the CIFAR Bio-Inspired Solar Energy program. If successful, more Canadian renewable fuel like ethanol could be created from greenhouse gases and less from farmed food.