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Research

Capturing carbon

Developing new technology to find a good use for waste carbon dioxide

Published:
31 January 2022

University of Southampton spin-out company, ViridiCO2 , is revolutionising the sustainability of chemical manufacturing processes by deriving products from carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) to close the carbon loop.

COP26 brought into sharp focus yet again the desperate need for increased action on climate change and reducing carbon emissions. It is time for action, and Dr Daniel Stewart and Professor Robert Raja , founders of ViridiCO2, are already on the case.

ViridiCO2 has emerged from Daniel’s doctoral research, which followed an MChem degree from Southampton’s School of Chemistry.

“Our new technology is able to directly replace petrochemicals ─ these are chemicals derived from fossil fuels used in the chemical manufacturing process ─ with repurposed CO2. By using waste CO 2 in this way, it not only reduces emissions and fossil fuel reliance, but it also serves as a CO 2 utilisation strategy, rather than just a storage solution,” explains Daniel.

Carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) is a way to prevent CO 2 reaching the atmosphere and to either store it safely or use it to create useful products. Typically, CCUS involves the removal of CO 2 from the exhaust gases of industrial facilities, such as those producing chemicals.

The CO 2 can then be compressed and transported for storage in geological formations underground, or it can be used as a raw material which can then be utilised to produce products

Dr Daniel Stewart
Dr Daniel Stewart

Unfortunately, current methods of turning CO 2 into a raw material requires significant energy and so aren’t widely utilised. To address this, ViridiCO2 have developed a new technology to make this process more energy efficient.

“Our catalyst takes carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere and turns it into polymers,” says Daniel. “These polymers can be used in furniture, cars, and clothing. This means consumers will be able to buy products which are actually made from waste CO 2 , saving the planet whilst buying the products they need.”

If we don’t solve the issue of CO₂ emissions and greenhouse emissions, we’re in real danger of facing a climate catastrophe that will affect every single person on the planet. We need to take action and develop these technologies now.

Dr Daniel Stewart - Co-Founder of ViridiCO2 and EPSRC Impact Acceleration Research Fellow

Read the full story in Re:action , the University’s research and enterprise magazine.

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