A crew of researchers from the Catalysis Institute on the College of Cape City (UCT) and built-in vitality and chemical firm Sasol have made developments in the usage of industrial iron catalyst, produced cheaply and at giant‑scale at Sasol’s Secunda plant, which can allow conversion of unavoidable or biogenically derived carbon dioxide (CO2) and inexperienced hydrogen on to quite a lot of inexperienced chemical substances and jet gasoline.
This improvement is a big step in the direction of the implementation of CO2 hydrogenation expertise in South Africa.
For many years Sasol has been utilizing its Fischer Tropsch (FT) expertise to transform low‑grade coal and fuel into artificial fuels and chemical substances. The most important scale instance of the industrial utility of this expertise is its Secunda plant in Mpumalanga, which converts synthesis fuel – a combination of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2) – derived from coal gasification and supplemented by reformed pure fuel into 160 000 barrels of merchandise per day.
Professor Michael Claeys, the director at UCT’s Catalysis Institute, stated: “Sasol and UCT have a longstanding collaboration on the elemental points of FT expertise, on each industrial cobalt and iron catalysts, which supplies workable options for working vegetation. The partnership brings collectively Sasol’s established experience round FT catalysis and synthesis fuel conversion, and UCT’s modelling and in‑situ characterisation capabilities.”
In recent times, the college has additionally been engaged on CO2 conversion expertise and has constructed up intensive expertise in CO2 hydrogenation.
With its introduced intention to leverage its present FT expertise and skillset to steer the event of South Africa’s hydrogen economic system, Sasol and UCT have been engaged on discovering revolutionary methods to make use of this chemistry to transform CO2 and hydrogen into a variety of helpful and inexperienced merchandise. Now they’ve.
“Conversion of inexperienced hydrogen along with CO2, a course of known as CO2 hydrogenation, is gaining important curiosity worldwide and is a promising approach to produce sustainable aviation fuels and chemical substances which have a considerably decrease carbon footprint,” stated Dr Cathy Dwyer, the vice chairman of science analysis at Sasol Analysis & Know-how.
There are two methods to transform CO2 right into a helpful vary of merchandise utilizing FT chemistry. Within the oblique pathway, CO2 and inexperienced hydrogen are first transformed to synthesis fuel both by co‑electrolysis or over a catalyst.
The synthesis fuel is then reacted over an appropriate FT catalyst, to provide hydrocarbons and water. Sasol’s suite of cobalt catalysts is very environment friendly for the latter course of. Alternatively, hydrogen and CO2 will be transformed instantly over a single catalyst to a helpful vary of merchandise, utilizing what’s termed “tandem” catalysis, and that is the place the iron catalysts have been discovered to be advantageous.
The collaboration with UCT has revealed that Sasol’s iron catalyst can obtain CO2 conversions higher than 40%, producing ethylene and lightweight olefins, which can be utilized as chemical feedstocks, and important portions of kerosene‑vary hydrocarbons (jet gasoline).