Presto change-o: Technology converts CO2, water to biofuel

🛢️ BIOFUELS: A research team led by Argonne National Laboratory and Northern Illinois University has discovered a new catalyst that efficiently converts carbon dioxide and water into ethanol. The process uses an electrochemical reaction to break down CO2 and water molecules, then reassemble them into an ethanol molecule.

The method has potential industrial applications such as at fossil fuel power plants or alcohol fermentation plants. It also could be a foundation for developing catalysts that convert CO2 into other valuable chemicals.

“We could couple the electrochemical process of CO2-to-ethanol conversion using our catalyst to the electric grid and take advantage of the low-cost electricity available from renewable sources like solar and wind during off-peak hours,” Di-Jia Liu, senior chemist in Argonne’s Chemical Sciences and Engineering division and a UChicago CASE scientist in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, said in a news release.

🚌 TRANSPORTATION: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will provide up to $3 million in a pilot grant program to help schools across the state replace diesel buses with electric buses and charging stations. It’s being heralded as the first pilot program in the Midwest to gather data about electric buses’ performance and reliability.

🌞 SOLAR: The National Renewable Energy Lab is recruiting 10 to 20 local governments to participate in testing of its soon-to-be released SolarAPP, reports PV Magazine. The app is meant to speed local government permitting for residential solar projects and is slated for widespread release in October.

***SPONSORED LINK: The Rise Up! podcast brings real-time, relevant energy and policy information to Midwest stakeholders through an engaging and entertaining medium. Episode 4: “Credit Where Credit is Due” with special guest Andy Johnson is out now! #RiseUpMidwest***

📊 RANKING: Seven Midwest businesses have been named to Fast Company’s 2020 list of the 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators. Companies in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio made the list of global businesses.

🏆 AWARD: The University of North Dakota has received the 2020 Sustainability Innovation Award from APPA for its partnership with Johnson Controls on a new steam plant, reports KNOX.

Reach out with ideas for other Midwest tech stories you want to see covered in Centered. Send news tips, press releases, and feedback via email to or connect on LinkedIn and Twitter @centereddottech.

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