CBE professor wins fossil fuel research grant

Office of Strategic Communication

The College of Engineering has won a grant worth $933,662 from the Office of Fossil Fuels of the Department of Energy to develop new products using carbon dioxide (CO2 ) or coal. 

The research project, which will be led by Syed Mubeen, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, will develop a lab-scale abiotic electrolyzer that converts CO2 to formic acid, which is often used as a preservative in livestock feed. The project will design a process where CO2 is collected from the flue gas of coal or fossil fuel combustion and fed to the electrolyzer. Supercritical CO2 phase will be used for reduction, and a liquid water phase will be used for oxidation.

“The goal of this project is to develop technology that could potentially convert carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuel power plants to value added chemicals,” says Mubeen. “By doing so, the proposed technology could potentially reduce net greenhouse gas emissions and lower the net CO2 capture cost.”

The UI team will work with engineering and chemistry professors and students from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Michigan. Mubeen says the experience will help students learn how to address scientific, engineering, and economic challenges associated with “our world’s continuously changing energy infrastructure.”

The DOE fossil fuel project will award a total of $18.7 million to 17 projects nationwide with the goal of developing innovative and marketable products that use carbon dioxide or coal as a key component. The project title is “Selective and Efficient Electrochemical Production of Neat Formic Acid From Carbon Dioxide Using Novel Platinum Group Metals-Free Catalysts.”