A TEAM of researchers from the Catalysis Institute at the UCT and Sasol said this week they had made advancements in the use of commercial iron catalyst, produced cheaply and at large scale at Sasol’s Secunda plant, which would enable conversion of unavoidable or biogenically-derived carbon dioxide (CO₂) and green hydrogen directly to a variety of green chemicals and jet fuel.
“This development is a significant step towards the implementation of CO₂ hydrogenation technology in South Africa,” the companies said in a statement.
They said the collaboration had revealed that Sasol’s iron catalyst could achieve CO₂ conversions greater than 40 percent, producing ethylene and light olefins, which could be used as chemical feedstocks, and significant quantities of kerosene-range hydrocarbons (jet fuel).
Professor Michael Claeys, director at UCT’s Catalysis Institute, said: “Sasol and UCT have a long-standing collaboration on the fundamental aspects of FT (Fischer Tropsch) technology, on both commercial cobalt and iron catalysts, which provides workable solutions for operating plants. The partnership brings together Sasol’s established expertise around FT catalysis and synthesis gas conversion and UCT’s modelling and in-situ characterisation capabilities.”
“With its announced intention to leverage its existing FT technology and skill set to lead the development of South Africa’s hydrogen economy, Sasol and UCT have been working on finding innovative ways to use this chemistry to convert CO₂ and hydrogen into a range of useful and green products. Now they have,” they said.
Dr Cathy Dwyer, the vice president: Science Research at Sasol Research & Technology, said “Conversion of green hydrogen together with CO₂, a process called CO₂ hydrogenation, is gaining significant interest worldwide and is a promising way to produce sustainable aviation fuels and chemicals which have a significantly lower carbon footprint.”