Back to overview

Tandem carbon capture and catalysis in Lewis pair metal-organic frameworks for CO2 hydrogenation in flow

Applicant Ranocchiari Marco
Number 204284
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Paul Scherrer Institut
Institution of higher education Paul Scherrer Institute - PSI
Main discipline Inorganic Chemistry
Start/End 01.01.2022 - 31.12.2025
Approved amount 716'864.00
Show all

All Disciplines (2)

Inorganic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry

Keywords (4)

CO2 Utilization; Lewis pair; Tandem CO2 and Catalysis; Metal-organic frameworks

Lay Summary (Italian)

I livelli di CO2 sono aumentati in modo allarmante nell'atmosfera dalla rivoluzione industriale, e ridurli attraverso nuove tecnologie è essenziale per raggiungere Net Zero nel 2050. La cattura e lo stoccaggio della CO2 sono tecnologie consolidata, ma convertire la CO2 in molecole utili e commerciabile è più interessante per creare un'economia sostenibile. Il metanolo è una molecola chiave con un grande mercato, ma le tecnologie attuali sono inefficienti se prodotto dalla CO2. Sono necessarie nuove tecnologie efficienti per sviluppare modi alternativi sostenibili che convertano la CO2 in metanolo.
Lay summary
Il progetto mira a sviluppare materiali che catturino la CO2 dai gas di scarico industriali e la convertano direttamente in metanolo. I materiali di interesse sono metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), che permettono un controllo completo della chimica da CO2 a metanolo. I MOF avranno due funzioni. Una di catturare selettivamente la CO2, e la seconda di catalizzare la sua conversione a metanolo. Il progetto studierà la chimica di ogni reazione nel materiale per sviluppare un processo nuovo ed efficiente per la cattura e la conversione integrata della CO2 che possa diminuire i livelli di CO2 dall'atmosfera.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.02.2022

Lay Summary (English)

The CO2 levels have been rising alarmingly in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, and reducing them through new technologies is essential to reach Net Zero in 2050. CO2 capture and storage is a well-established technology, but converting CO2 into a useful marketable molecule is more attractive to create a sustainable economy. Methanol is a key molecule with a large market, but the current technologies to produce it from CO2 inefficient. Novel efficient technologies are required to develop alternative sustainable ways that convert CO2 to methanol.
Lay summary
The project aims to develop materials that capture CO2 from the industrial exhaust gas and convert it directly to methanol. The materials of interest are metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which allow complete control of the chemistry from CO2 to methanol. MOFs will have two functions. One captures CO2 selectively, and the second catalyze its conversion to methanol. The project will study the chemistry behind each reaction in the material to develop a novel, efficient process for the integrated CO2 capture and conversion that could decrease the CO2 levels from the atmosphere.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 17.02.2022

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
182892 NCCR MARVEL: Materials’ Revolution: Computational Design and Discovery of Novel Materials (phase II) 01.05.2018 National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCRs)


Since the industrial revolution, the increasing level of CO2 in the atmosphere is one of the major causes of climate change, a threat for the delicate equilibrium of all living beings on earth. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture and utilization (CCU) are the main strategies to decrease CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, both important technologies to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, one of the main environmental goals of the Swiss Federation and many European countries. CCU offers attractive advantages since the trapped CO2 can be of use to redirect the chemical and the energy industries and to create a green economy. Methanol (MeOH) is one of the most important bulk chemicals with large markets both in the chemical and energy sectors. MeOH can be considered a promising product made out of CO2 in an atom economic way and can be produced with an overall negative carbon footprint with renewable feedstock. Current mature technologies to produce MeOH from CO2 rely on high purity CO2 feed at high pressure, which needs to be produced with demanding energy and therefore environmental costs. Technologies that can use CO2 directly from flue gas and from the atmosphere are needed to decrease the carbon footprint of CCU. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are one of the most compelling class of materials developed in the last decades and their success is driven by their high chemical flexibility and record surface area. MOFs with Lewis pairs have shown remarkable efficiency in capturing CO2 from flue gas and from air through chemical activation to carbamates.The ultimate goal of this proposal is to develop bi-functional materials that can both adsorb CO2 from relevant feeds and directly convert it to MeOH by hydrogenation with H2 in a tandem capture/catalysis reaction. The materials are made of a Lewis pair metal-organic framework (LP-MOF), whose function is to chemically activate CO2 in the form of carbamates that can be converted by means of molecular catalysts producing the desired chemicals with turnover. The idea of this proposal is to study how one can exploit the unique adsorption properties of LP-MOFs and use them for the chemical conversion of the captured CO2 in a tandem adsorption-catalytic system with good performance. This will be achieved by carefully studying the capture and reactivity of the MOF in the liquid and gas phase. With the help of such fundamental understanding, a fixed-bed continuous flow catalytic reactor for the tandem CO2 capture and hydrogenation to methanol in the gas or liquid phase will be developed. Such reactor will be ultimately operated with relevant CO2 feeds such as flue gas from coal power plants providing a simplified approach for an efficient CCU strategy with potential economic value and high environmental benefits.