Rice University engineers convert carbon monoxide directly into acetic acid, a widely used chemical that gives vinegar its flavor, in a continuous catalytic reactor.
Rice University engineers have developed a reactor to produce liquid acetic acid directly from carbon monoxide (CO). The reactor uses a copper nanocube catalyst and a solid state electrolyte. Previously, these processes required additional steps to cleanse the product.
The eco-friendly reactor uses nano-sized copper cubes as the primary catalyst along with a unique solid state electrolyte.
Along with vinegar and other foods, acetic acid is used as an antiseptic for medicinal purposes, as a solvent for inks, paints and coatings, and in the manufacture of vinyl acetate, a precursor to common white glue.
The drawing process is based on the Wang laboratory reactor for the production of formic acid from carbon dioxide (CO₂). Traditionally, acetic acid is usually produced in liquid electrolytes, but has the important problem of low productivity. In addition, it is problematic to separate the product itself from the electrolyte.
Acetic acid is usually not synthesized from CO or CO₂. However, the uniqueness and advantages of the new development are precisely in the fact that they take waste gases, the amount of which is important to reduce, and turn them into a useful product.