Processing pollution into profit (Day 205)

Processing pollution into profit (Day 205)

18th December 2014

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I have spent my career focusing on carbon capture and storage and I am always on the lookout for new ways to deal with climate change.

For a new method of carbon capture to be a success it has to be sustainable and economically viable, but if it can make a profit, it is even better!

When I came across this story of a company, Liquid Light, made up of chemical engineers, chemists, environmental engineers, physicists and mechanical engineers using carbon dioxide to make plastic bottles, face cream and wood glue, it made me think that this could be a real solution to our problem.

Carbon dioxide is perhaps the most available product in the world today; we all are focused on getting rid of it. Any method that can make this waste product into a profit is a big step forward.

Picture Credit | Liquid LightLiquid Light’s electrocatalytic ‘reaction cell’ is a key part of the company’s new process to produce major chemicals, like ethylene glycol, from widely available, inexpensive carbon dioxide. Production plants would combine numerous cells, as done today for other mainstream chemicals.
Liquid Light’s first process to convert carbon dioxide into a useful product is the production of ethylene glycol. This can then be used to make a wide range of consumer products such as plastic bottles, antifreeze and polyester clothing and has a £17 billion (US$27 billion) annual market.

The group suggest that their technology can be used to produce more than 60 chemicals with large existing market; eg propylene, isopropanol and acetic acid.

Liquid Light uses low-energy catalytic electrochemistry to convert carbon dioxide into chemicals using hydrogenation and purification. By adjusting the design of their catalyst the team have managed to produce a range of commercially relevant carbon compounds.

The team have suggested that a tonne of carbon dioxide could create between 10,000 to 20,000 bottles.

By using multiple carbon dioxide feeds from one source Liquid Light suggest that this technology could be used to produce different products at the same time.

Currently the cost advantages of this process have been validated in a lab and I am looking forward to seeing how efficiently this works on a bigger scale.


If you are working to innovate new methods of reducing carbon emissions why not get in touch and share your story.