Review

What would it take for renewably powered electrosynthesis to displace petrochemical processes?

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Science  26 Apr 2019:
Vol. 364, Issue 6438, eaav3506
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav3506

Sourcing commodity chemicals from air?

Plants that grow in the ground make all their carbon-based infrastructure from carbon dioxide (CO2). By contrast, plants built by chemists use petroleum and natural gas as their carbon feedstock. In a review, De Luna et al. explore the prospective challenges and opportunities for manufacturing commodity chemicals such as ethylene and alcohols by direct electrochemical reduction of CO2. They estimate that production costs would be competitive with fossil technologies if renewable electricity costs drop below 4 cents per kilowatt-hour and electrical-to-chemical conversion efficiencies reach 60%.

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