Imagine being able to fill up your gas tank using a fuel that is generated by carbon dioxide. The very greenhouse gas, that is created when you drive your car in the first place. Thanks to the research that is being done here at the University of Toronto, we may be filling our car in methanol. Methanol that is generated using a system that makes this fuel completely carbon neutral. According to the carbon dioxide information analysis centre, over 33.5 Billion tons of CO2 were emitted from fossil fuel combustion is manufactured in 2010. Biological sequestration of carbon fixing that is occurred naturally is no sufficient to keep CO2 level in balance and this excess is contributing to global warming. Currently one method of reducing CO2 emission is by capturing it and storing it - a process that University of Toronto professor Dr. Douglas Stephan comes with a merited of issues. "Some processes would advocate storing it that carbon dioxide in the ground for example or storing in the bottom of the seas. There are issues with some of these processes. Some of them are quite energy intensive, some of them have environmental questions associated with them. Another approach is to take out of the atmosphere and try to use it in some fashion and that.s what really our interest is - to try to use CO2 for fuel production".

Dr. Stephan is focused on applying the science on methanol production because it makes sense at economically and environmentally. The infrastructure is already in place that can handle methanol because CO2 and hydrogen are renewable; generating these fuel sources would be carbon neutral. The last component in the equation is to find the right catalyst to conciliate the conversion.

"What we able to do at this point is certainly we can capture CO2, we can even transform it to methanol. Another word, we take one molecule of CO2 to get one molecule of methanol. Then our frustrated lewis pair is over. What you really want is a situation where the frustrated lewis pair can generate methanol but do it again and again and again and again. So it's a catalytic process. Take the CO2, converted to methanol and facilitate that process. You don't need very much frustrated lewis pairs and you could use lots of CO2 and hydrogen and you get lots of products.

Currently, Dr. Stephan is working with Professor Dr. Eugenia Kumacheva in his pursue of finding that reusable catalyst. What Dr. Kumacheva has done is created a method of studying gas and liquid interaction. Essentially how the frustrated lewis pairs which is in a solution interact with the CO2 which is a gas. Normally this is a very difficult reaction to study, but thanks to Dr. Kumacheva innovation, the reaction can be studied quite easily using Microfluidic X.

"Microfluidic X is basically a flow of liquid through a narrow channel, as thin as a thickness of a hair. What we are doing is generating bubbles of CO2. These bubbles are generated in a ballistic way, with a very high frequency up to 1 kilohertz. And then the bubbles shrink, due to the reaction and base on the shrinkage of bubbles, we can say how efficient is a particular reaction. The acquisition of data is based on the bubbles - the images of bubbles. And it can be done very fast, in comparison to typical analysis."

Using the data provided by Dr. Kumacheva, Dr. Stephan and his research team are continually developing systems will capture CO2 and be reactive with CO2 by creating new frustrated lewis pairs with the most desirable catalytic properties. Once Dr. Stephan's research reaches the phase of development and implementation, we are looking at potential endless source of energy which is completely carbon neutral. But with that date being 15 to 25 years down the road, we need to continue looking for alternative sources of energy which are renewable to help with CO2 emissions and our reliance of fossil fuel.