Intermediates & polymers

Catalysis for Polymers from Carbon Dioxide

The project is about the development of methods to allow CO2 to be used to make useful polymers and materials. In particular, new processes will be investigated which allow carbon dioxide to function as a monomer in polymer preparation. Using this chemistry, 30-50% of the polymer mass could come directly from carbon dioxide; it also results in a significant reduction in petrochemical usage and greenhouse gas emissions. The process is critically dependent on the selection of the catalyst, which can influence the rate of the reaction as well as control the properties of the materials. The focus of this project is to discover new, improved catalysts and fully investigate their performances for the carbon dioxide copolymerization. It is also to apply these catalysts to make more sophisticated materials, particularly targeting higher value, specialty polymer application areas.

Expected results

The project aims at developing low-cost, scalable technologies allowing carbon dioxide to be used to make a range of useful products. This will answer the questions: “What are the optimum design parameters for catalysts for carbon dioxide copolymerization?”, “What range of polymers can be produced?”, “How will the technology be applied best?” and “What are the range of commercial opportunities for the polymers?”

What exactly is being done?

The project group works on both catalyst and materials synthesis (preparation) and on the study of the materials’ properties. Methods-wise polymer chemistry and catalysis are applied.

Contribution to developing a CO2 re-use market

As to optimize performance and reduce costs, the polymers’ properties and their production mechanisms need to be well understood. The outputs of the project will impact manufacturing value/profitability which will ultimately influence the scale of the environmental impact.

“Exploring CO2 re-use helps reduce environmental pollution and is important for society and as a future direction for chemistry. It is also fascinating and highly challenging and thus provides a wonderful challenge for research.”– Charlotte Williams

Project duration

09/2015 to 3/2019


Prof. Charlotte Williams

Project Lead and Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, University of Oxford

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