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A new catalyst enables room-temperature interconversion of CO2 and formic acid

By Tetsuo Satoh |

A new catalyst that converts H2 and CO2 into formic acid under mild conditions has been developed by researchers at the Solar Light Energy Conversion Group of Energy Technology Research Institute, National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; Tsukuba, Japan; unit.aist.go.jp/energy/index_e.htm) and Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL; Upton, N.Y.; www.bnl.gov). And because the reaction can be reversed by a simple pH change to produce CO-free H2, the researchers believe the system may someday be used as a safe way to store and transport H2 for fuel cells. AIST was the first to develop a catalyst that enables the production of the formic acid through the reaction of H2 and CO2 in water under mild conditions, and also succeeded producing CO-free H2 with the worlds highest efficiency by the decomposition of formic acid in water — without organic additives. BNL has technologies on reaction mechanism analysis of artificial photonic synthesis catalyst and proton-relay-based hydrogen activation. By combining the two group’s efforts, the researchers developed a highly efficient system based on a homogeneous iridium catalyst with proton-responsive ligands (diagram). With this system, they can produce formic…
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