Producing Fuel from Carbon Dioxide Using Zinc

Jamie Michelle Stafford


Carbon dioxide, CO2, is a molecule produced industrially by burning hydrocarbons used as fuel, and biochemically, by exhaling to allow our bodies to maintain homeostasis. Carbon dioxide is a very stable, low energy molecule; furthermore, the physical property of most concern is atmospheric carbon dioxide’s ability to trap infrared radiation, heat, produced from sunlight that hits the earth’s surface. This phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect. The Earth has ways of using or storing carbon dioxide: photosynthetic organisms use CO2 to make sugars, and CO2 dissolves into the oceans. However, man’s production of CO2 is overtly becoming beyond the capacity of naturally occurring processes. We have found evidence that zinc can react with CO2, which after a series of chemical steps will produce the gas, methane. Among these steps, we propose a mechanism process in which formaldehyde, CH2O, is produced and can then be reacted with zinc to produce methane by a well-established mechanism called the Clemmensen reduction. In a Clemmensen reduction, Zn is known to produce hydrocarbons from aldehydes, such as formaldehyde, which represent plausible chemical substances as intermediates along our path in this mechanistic exploration. Here, we will focus on explaining the path in which zinc, a relatively inexpensive and abundant metal, captures CO2 and allows us to turn it into a combustible gas.


Carbon Dioxide Reduction;Zinc;Computational Chemistry

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