This Center for Chemical Innovation will develop new catalytic chemistries that enable the use of CO2 as a sustainable feedstock for manufacture of large-scale commodity chemicals. The Center brings together researchers with expertise in organometallic synthesis, computational catalyst design, chemical synthesis of advanced catalyst support architectures, and catalyst and electrocatalyst performance testing to focus on the conversion of carbon dioxide into three chemical commodities: ethylene, acrylates, and formate. These chemical products currently are produced on a multimillion-ton scale annually from petroleum feedstocks, and are themselves feedstocks for more complex chemical products and high-value plastics. Three strategic areas of research and innovation are proposed that taken together support the overall vision of the proposed CCI: (1) to gain new fundamental insight into the mechanisms by which metallic catalysts activate CO2 to initiate its conversion, (2) to co-develop with industrial partners new processes that incorporate activated CO2 in the industrial synthesis of commodity targets, and (3) to co-develop with industrial and utility partners new approaches to compressing and purifying CO2 from power plant flue gases into a physical state suitable for utilization as a concentrated chemical feedstock.

The successful development of CO2 as an alternative feedstock would profoundly impact the sustainability and societal footprint of the chemical industry. Collaborative student training, an emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship development, and public outreach are also key components of this proposed CCI. Members of underrepresented minorities will be engaged at both Brown and Yale Universities through the Leadership Alliance Program, a national consortium of 32 institutions of higher learning, headquartered at Brown University.

The Centers for Chemical Innovation (CCI) Program supports research centers that can address major, long-term fundamental chemical research challenges that have a high probability of both producing transformative research and leading to innovation. These Centers will attract broad scientific and public interest by sharing the results of their approach to this challenging question.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Katharine Covert
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Brown University
United States
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