Yasuaki Einaga of Keio University and Kazuya Nakata of Tokyo University of Science jointly developed a technology to synthesize formaldehyde, a raw material of plastics and adhesive, from seawater and carbon dioxide. The technology generates gas by electrifying in seawater with the help of an electrode made of artificial diamond and collects generated gas to produce formaldehyde. Hydrogen ions contained in seawater react to carbon dioxide and generates formaldehyde. Theoretically, it is possible to produce formaldehyde inexhaustibly with seawater and carbon dioxide. In addition, the technology will be of great help for effective utilization of carbon dioxide recovered from manufacturing plants and thermal electric power plants. The research team will advance the technology for practical application in alliance with chemical companies.
It is possible to use a carbon electrode to synthesize formaldehyde, but the generation efficiency is 20% at most. However, the new technology successfully increased the generation efficiency to about 74%, and it does not need high temperature and high pressure. Besides, it needs only small amount of electricity for synthesis. Low electricity expense makes the new technology highly competitive in terms of production cost. However, it is a critical issue how to develop large diamonds at low cost for practical application because the new technology needs an electrode made of artificial diamond. Currently, formaldehyde is synthesized by adding high temperature and high pressure to methanol made of natural gas and coal. World production of formaldehyde is 8 million tons per year at present.
Plastics made of rice
Efforts are being made to create plastics
without relying on oil