Chemical manufacturing in the United States is source of economic benefits, though it can also be a contributor to environmental pollution. The project is conceived with the goal of developing new methods of chemical manufacturing that optimize the benefits and minimize the problems. The Chemical Catalysis program in the Division of Chemistry is funding work by Professor Karthish Manthiram at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop methods of making polymers (plastics) using carbon dioxide, simple carbon-containing molecules, water, and electricity. The new process may provide a highly sustainable route to ?carbon-negative plastics.? Key to this this project is the use of metal catalysts that can add carbon dioxide to molecules made of hydrogen and carbon. In parallel with the laboratory research, a new outreach program targeted at middle school girls is being developed. This program teaches chemical principles surrounding renewable energy for chemical manufacturing. These efforts promote the involvement of women and underrepresented minorities in research and STEM fields of study.
Electrochemical carboxylation can enable the sustainable synthesis of a wide variety of valuable carboxylic acids from carbon dioxide and renewable electricity with net-negative greenhouse gas emissions. Acrylic acid is a large-volume commodity chemical whose sustainable synthesis is highly sought. With the support of the Chemical Catalysis Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Karthish Manthiram is leading a project to develop electrochemical carboxylation as a key driver for a novel synthetic route to sustainably produce acrylic acid from carbon dioxide and ethylene. To activate ethylene for carboxylation, it is necessary to halogenate it, which can be done at ambient or near-ambient conditions. This reaction leads to a variety of halogenated-intermediates. This project is focused on studying how to electrocatalytically carboxylate these halogenated ethylene derivatives by developing silver-based catalysts. The Manthiram Lab at MIT is developing an outreach program that conveys how knowledge of chemistry can be used to understand global warming and solve problems in chemical synthesis. The program is targeted at middle school girls, helping to improve representation of women and underrepresented minorities in science.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.