Direct Conversion of Flue Gas to Value-Added Chemicals Using a Carbon -Nuetral Process

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OPEN 2021
Chicago, Illinois
Project Term:
03/22/2022 - 03/21/2025

Critical Need:

U.S. electric power and industry sectors account for about 50% of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Carbon capture and utilization (CCU) technologies promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Intermittent renewable energy can be leveraged to convert CO2 into valuable chemicals and fuels to make a carbon-neutral supply chain, opening up new opportunities to decarbonize the economy. Commonly used CCU technologies such as carbon uptake (algae-based carbon utilization approaches, mineralization, chemical conversion, and enhanced oil recovery) are either in their early stages or have not yet made a major breakthrough. Effective CCU technologies are needed to eliminate the climate crisis and drive new markets.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) will develop a novel electrochemical process for electrochemically synthesizing C2+ alcohols, i.e., ethanol and propanol from captured CO2, at high rates in a laboratory-scale zero-gap flow electrolyzer. The IIT team will study the effects of flue gas composition and operating conditions on the reaction kinetics parameters and mass transport rate of the flue-gas-based CO2 reduction reaction. Ultimately, an environmentally friendly, economically feasible, and energy efficient CCU process will be developed for large-scale carbon-neutral production of chemical and fuels that are currently produced in carbon-intensive and energy-consuming thermal processes.

Potential Impact:

IIT will address the US need to develop sustainable, carbon-neutral production of chemicals at the gigaton scale while simultaneously capturing CO2 at the source of production in a distributed way. The project aims to:


Directly convert CO2 to value-added products via an electrochemical process that also offers a promising way to carbon-neutral manufacturing of chemicals and fuels.


Achieve net-zero CO2 emission by using renewable energy.


Significantly reduce the cost of carbon (less than $40/ton CO2) and save additional ~900 kWh per ton of CO2 by eliminating a separate CO2 capture process.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Jack Lewnard
Project Contact:
Prof. Mohammad Asadi
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