Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Polymer-coated metals efficiently convert CO2 into useful chemicals

Technology #cu15247

The synthesis of carbon-based fuels and feedstocks from CO2, an abundant and otherwise harmful greenhouse gas emission, is highly desirable. This process, however, has been difficult to accomplish in an effective and environmental-friendly way. CO2, a relatively inert compound, can only be transformed by select metal catalysts. The technology described here uses earth-abundant metals and a copper catalyst to improve efficiency in the conversion of CO2 to ethylene and formate, two compounds valuable as feedstocks.

Copper and the coating, polyvinyl pyridine, are inexpensive, abundant and non-toxic.

Polyvinyl pyridine polymer supported copper catalyst efficiently recycles CO2 into useful feedstock chemicals with minimal energy input

This technology utilizes copper, an abundant, inexpensive metal, and water to efficiently convert carbon dioxide to ethylene and formate. In doing so, this system avoids wasteful overpotential and hydrogen evolution, a common and undesired side-reaction. Further, this technology uses a polyvinyl pyridine coating to stabilize reactive intermediates, allowing for efficient conversion of CO2.

Various catalytic setups were conducted to demonstrate the efficiency of this system. Large amounts of ethylene and formic acid products were generated during the reaction.

Lead Inventor:

Ponisseril Somasundaran, Ph.D.


  • Conversion of CO2 into ethylene and formate
  • Recycling of waste greenhouse gas CO2 into useful products
  • Polymer support for various catalytically active metal-ligand complexes


  • Utilizes inexpensive, non-precious copper catalyst
  • High catalyst selectivity and efficiency
  • Produces two useful products (formate and ethylene) which are easily separable
  • Robust catalyst survives long operation times
  • Uses water as solvent

Patent Information:

Patent Pending

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU15247

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