One of the biggest sources of global energy consumption is the industrial manufacturing of products like iron, plastics, and steel. Not only does manufacturing these materials necessitates huge volumes of energy, yet several of the reactions also directly release carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

In an exertion to aid the reduction of usage as well as related emissions. MIT engineers have invented an alternate approach to creating epoxides. Its a kind of chemical uses for manufacturing diverse products, which includes pharmaceuticals, plastics, and textiles. Their new methodology that uses electricity to run the reaction, could be conducted at room temperature. As well as atmospheric pressure despite eradicating carbon dioxide as a byproduct.

“What isn’t often realized is that industrial energy usage is far greater than transportation or residential usage. This is the elephant in the room, and there has been very little technical progress in terms of being able to reduce industrial energy consumption,” states Karthish Manthiram, an assistant professor chemical engineering & the senior author of the recent investigation.

The scientists have filed for a patent over their technique, and are now working towards refining the efficiency of synthesis. So that it could be adapted for large-scale, usage of manufacturing.

Universal chemicals

Epoxides, that has a key chemical feature as 3-member ring containing an oxygen atom bound to 2 carbon atoms, utilize for manufacturing products as diverse as antifreeze, detergents as well as polyester.

“It’s impossible to go for even a short period of one’s life without touching or feeling or wearing something. That has at some point in its history involved an epoxide. They’re ubiquitous,” Manthiram says. “They’re in so many different places, but we tend not to think about the embedded energy along with carbon dioxide footprint.”

Some epoxides are amongst the chemicals with the highest carbon footprints. The production of one standard epoxide, ethylene oxide, produces the 5th-largest carbon dioxide emissions of any product of chemical.

Manufacturing epoxides necessitates several steps of chemical, also most of them are extremely energy-intensive. For instance, the reaction used for attaching an atom of oxygen to ethylene, making ethylene oxide, needs to be done at approximately 300 degrees Celsius with the under pressures 20 times higher than the atmospheric pressure. Additionally, a large amount of energy utilized to power this type of business arises from fossil fuels.

Adding to the carbon footprint, the reaction utilized for producing ethylene oxide too produces carbon dioxide. As a byproduct release in the atmosphere. However, other epoxides are made by using an even more complex approach including hazardous peroxides, which will possibly be explosive & calcium hydroxide, which can result in skin irritation.

To come up with a more defensible methodology, the team of MIT took motivation from a reaction called water oxidation that uses electricity to split water into oxygen, protons & electrons. They made certain to try accomplishing the water oxidation. Then attaching the oxygen atom to an organic compound known as olefin that is a precursor to epoxides.