New catalyst could lead to cleaner energy

Chemists have devised a way to trap carbon dioxide and transform it into useful organic compounds, using a simple metal complex. Work is needed to understand and optimize the reaction, but one day this approach could offer an easy way to recapture some of the carbon dioxide emitted by vehicles and power plants.
“Ideally we’d like to develop carbon-neutral cycles for renewable energy, to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and avoid pollution,” Cummins says. “In addition, since producers of oil have lots of carbon dioxide available to them, companies are interested in using that carbon dioxide as an inexpensive feedstock to make value-added chemicals, including things like polymers.”
The new reaction transforms carbon dioxide into a negatively charged carbonate ion, which can then react with a silicon compound to produce formate, a common starting material for manufacturing useful organic compounds. This process, which the researchers describe in the journal Chemical Science, relies on a very simple molecular ion known as molybdate, an atom of the metal molybdenum bound to four atoms of oxygen.