One of the greatest challenges confronted by all societies today is to integrate environmental sustainability with economic growth and welfare.
The Carbon Dioxide Activation Center (CADIAC) will take on this challenge through a unique and multifaceted research effort merging strong nanoscience and chemistry competences in transition-metal catalysis, surface chemistry, electrochemistry, and hybrid organic/inorganic materials with the aim of developing new and efficient catalytic systems for converting CO2 into high-value compounds.
The synthesis of a range of carboxylate-containing compounds, such as alkyl, alkenyl and aryl acids and other derivatives, as well as related compounds encompassing aldehydes and alcohols will be pursued. All represent valuable feedstocks to commodities such as plastics, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals etc., and all currently originate from fossil sources. The outcome of this research endeavour will lead to new fundamental scientific knowledge on how to specifically activate carbon dioxide under mild and environmentally friendly reaction conditions, and to transform this underutilised resource to value-added bulk chemicals in energy efficient manners, which, ultimately, can contribute to make our societies carbon‑neutral.
Our vision in CADIAC is two-fold:
(1) to identify and develop catalytic units that exhibit exceptionally high selectivity and efficiency for CO2 activation and conversion, and
(2) to apply this knowledge for creating fundamentally new and ground-breaking chemical systems exerting unsurpassed molecular control on the catalysis, transport and high-value product formation processes in a sustainable manner.
Alongside the catalyst development, CADIAC will address the material platforms onto which the catalysts will be immobilized, thereby facilitating product purification and recyclability of the catalysts. In addition, some supports will also enhance catalytic activity, as well as increase conversion rates of CO2 by purposely trapping the gas chemically in the vicinity to the catalyst. Four different catalysis programs, which can be seen as individual tools within a toolbox, will be pursued to achieve our goals for CO2 activation. These include:
(1) homogeneous catalysis with transition metal and main group element catalysts;
(2) carbon supports for catalyst integration;
(3) 2D material stacking catalysts, and
(4) hybrid organic-inorganic catalysts.
A key objective of the centre will be to assemble ideal catalysts with material platforms into structurally new catalytically active entities that can promote CO2 conversion processes more efficiently and which are less energetically demanding.