WP14 Carbon Capture and Utilisation

Led by: Prof Andrew Barron, Swansea University


CO2 capture and utilization is one of the big challenges associated with meeting out international climate change obligations and lowering our carbon outputs.

The main topics that will be addressed are:

  • Advanced carbon capture materials to application.
  • New catalysts for the conversion of CO2 to fuel.
  • Flow cells for the total gas phase conversion of CO2 to fuel.

Below is a short video part of the outreach effort in carbon capture and utilisation. In this video tradition and sustainability are linked in a surprising and engaging way to capture the wider public interest in topics related to CO2 and climate change.

‘Be Tradition’ is a short environmental film that was produced as a part of Dr Enrico Andreoli’s current research at the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at the University’s College of Engineering. This film has been produced with funding from the EPSRC ( and the NRN-AEM (


The activities outlined above will be carried out via the following series of research projects:
a) Pelletize amine-rich polymer CO2 sorbents:
 Test pelletized materials.
 Develop high throughput pelletizing processes.
b) Improve CO2 sorption sate of amine-rich polymer sorbents:
 Identify CO2 sorption rate enhancer additives.
 Test CO2 sorption performance of rate-enhanced materials.
 Integrate enhanced materials and pelletization process.
c) Improve CO2 capture capacity of amine-rich polymer sorbents:
 Perform computer simulations of CO2 interaction with amine-rich polymers.
 Identify and implement strategies for improving CO2 capture capacity based on outcomes.
d) Prepare metal-based micro/nanostructured catalysts:
 Develop electrochemical and chemical routes toward the preparation of metal-based micro/nanostructure catalytic surfaces.
 Test the CO2 reduction performance of catalysts.
e) Identify polymers with CO2 reduction enhancing effect:
 Systematic testing of polymers in order to identify those with CO2 reduction enhancing effect at bulk metal.
 Qualification and quantification of the CO2 reduction enhancing effect of polymers on bulk metal.
f) Catalytic activity of metal micro/nanostructures-polymers composites for CO2 reduction:
 Prepare metal micro/nanostructure-polymer composites.
 Characterization of composites morphology and chemical properties.
 Qualification and quantification of the CO2 reduction enhancing effect of metal-based micro/nanostructure-polymer composites.
g) Design and construction of the TCF electrochemical flow cell:
 Evaluation of various TCF designs.
 Construction of TCF flow cells.
h) Testing and operational optimization of the basic TCF flow cell with standard catalytic materials:
 Testing of CO2 conversion performance of basic TCF flow cells.
 Optimization of design and way of operation of basic TCF flow cells.
i) Integration of advanced catalytic materials in TCF flow cells:
 Preparation of large size catalytic electrodes.
 Qualification and quantification of the TCF CO2 conversion products.
 Optimization of catalysts and operational conditions toward the selective formation of hydrocarbons.

Advanced Carbon Capture Materials to Application

We have developed advanced CO2 capture materials based on using amine-rich polymers and appropriate cross-linkers. These materials have unique CO2 sorption capabilities especially in terms of outstanding selectivity and high capacity. However, three limitations should be overcome in order to take them to application: (1) they are produced in powder form, whereas mechanically strong pellets are preferred for large scale separations, (2) they are slow in capturing CO2, whereas faster sorption rates are required for large scale applications, and (3) they use only part of their maximum theoretical sorption capacity, hence there is potential for further enhancing their CO2 capture capacity.

New Catalysts for the Conversion of CO2 to Fuel

We are developing new catalytic materials for the conversion of CO2 to fuel. In particular, polymer-assisted copper-based catalysts specifically tailored toward the transformation of CO2 to CH4, CH3OH, and ≥ C2. This transformation can be used to store intermittent renewable energy into carbon-neutral fuel while recycling CO2. Carbon-neutral fuel such as CH4 derived from CO2 is ready for use in the current natural gas consumption, distribution, and storage infrastructure. Fuel produced from renewable energy sources can reduce our dependence from fossil-fuel exporters.

Flow Cells for the Total Gas Phase Conversion of CO2 to Fuel

The conversion of CO2 to fuel in gas phase is attractive since solvent-less systems allow for (1) easier recovery of the products, (2) overcome CO2 mass transport limitations due to gas solubility, and (3) exploit different reaction mechanism in favour of C-C bond formation and production ≥ C2 hydrocarbons. We propose the development of a prototype of Total gas-phase CO2-to-Fuel (TCF) electrochemical flow cell for the continuous conversion of CO2/H2 mixtures to hydrocarbons.