Abstract of PhD Thesis

Fixation, Storage and Activation of CO2 using Iminodiacetic Acid-Based Coordination Complexes

Annemarie O'Toole, Trinity College Dublin, 2015

Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations and associated global warming issues impose extraordinary challenges to modern, industrial societies. The CO2 problem could be partially alleviated by the development of artificial photosynthetic systems that could economically fix CO2 and transform it into fuels or other useful chemicals.

This EPA-funded Ph.D. project was carried out by Dr. Annemarie O’Toole and was supervised by Prof. Wolfgang Schmitt at Trinity College Dublin. The project resulted in the synthesis of unique tetranuclear coordination compounds (see inset) containing non-toxic, metal ions that efficiently adsorb and release atmospheric CO2 in aqueous systems upon pH variation. The high CO2 affinity of the compounds that regenerate during the release process gives rise to a ‘green’ and cost-effective carbon capture technology. The research activities resulted in the optimisation of CO2 adsorption yields/rates upon variation of external reaction parameters using  a range of different transition metal ions and amine bases present in the system. The molecules were further investigated to develop artifical photosynthetic systems.

Dr. Annemarie O’Toole presented her research results at the ‘Global IP to Product‘ competition and was awarded the 1st prize at the national round and the 3rd prize in the international round (Stockholm). She graduated from Trinity College with a Ph.D. degree in 2015 and is now working at Intel, Ireland. Further, the results accomplished in this EPA project allowed the research team at Trinity College to secure follow-on funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI).

The IP of the developed technology that provides a potentially environmentally friendly approach to capture and release CO2 at low operational cost, was protected through European and US American patent applications. Further, the results raised interest by venture capitalists (Ray Naughton and Vincent Browne from Poolbeg Ventures Inc.) and contributed to the formation of the campus Company ‘Trinity Green Energies’ in 2014. The company is active in the areas of carbon capture, storage and transformation using innovative technologies and focuses on the discipline of environmental engineering and management.