Green electricity opens doors to low-emission alternatives for making fuels and chemicals

February 27, 2022 |

In Colorado, National Renewable Energy Laboratory scientists and collaborators stake the boundaries of producing chemicals and fuels from carbon dioxide, biomass, and renewable electricity with extensive data, broad analyses, and detailed models.

“Essentially, we are talking about an intersection of electrification and utilization of low-carbon feedstocks like carbon dioxide and biomass,” said Joshua Schaidle, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) laboratory program manager for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. Schaidle also leads NREL’s catalytic carbon transformation research and directs the U.S. Department of Energy’s Chemical Catalysis for Bioenergy Consortium. “Powered by renewable energy instead of fossil-based electricity, these systems could allow industries to move beyond fossil carbon.”

According to Schaidle and his NREL colleague Gary Grim, that alternative method of making fuels and chemicals could be a critical tool in decarbonizing an economic sector that often leaves deep carbon footprints in its wake.

In a pair of papers published in Energy and Environmental Science and ACS Energy Letters, Schaidle, Grim, and colleagues explore those questions and others on the technical and economic potential of electrifying—and decarbonizing—fuel and chemical production.

With plenty of uncertainty remaining, they hope doing such work can help mark the path forward from the lab benchtop to the commercial world.

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Category: Research

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