Researchers from North Carolina State University have used perovskites to significantly boost the efficiency of a technique that splits carbon dioxide (CO2) to create carbon monoxide (CO). The CO2-splitting process reportedly converts more than 98% of the CO2 into CO. In addition, the process also uses the resulting oxygen to convert methane into syngas, which is itself a feedstock used to make fuels and other products.

For the CO2-splitting process, researchers developed a nanocomposite of strontium ferrite dispersed in a chemically inert matrix of calcium oxide or manganese oxide. As CO2 is run over a packed bed of particles composed of the nanocomposite, the nanocomposite material splits the CO2 and captures one of the oxygen atoms. This reduces the CO2, leaving only CO which is valuable because it can be used to make a variety of chemical products, including everything from polymers to acetic acid.

"Previous CO2 conversion techniques have not been very efficient, converting well below 90% of the CO2 into CO," the team says. "We reached conversion rates as high as 99%".