MIT Chemists Develop Low-Carbon Phosphorus Production Method

Feb. 28, 2023
Next steps are to bring emissions to near zero using renewable energy, including wind and solar.

MIT chemists say they have discovered a process to generate white phosphorus with fewer emissions than traditional production methods.

The process uses electricity to speed up a key chemical reaction, which could cut related carbon emissions by at least 50%, according to the findings published on MIT News article.

“White phosphorus is currently an indispensable intermediate, and our process dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of converting phosphate to white phosphorus,” says Yogesh Surendranath, an associate professor of chemistry at MIT and the senior author of the study.

Phosphorus in a key ingredient in many consumer products, including lithium-ion batteries.

The most energy-intensive part of the phosphorus production involves breaking the bonds between phosphorus and oxygen, which are very stable. The traditional thermal process requires significantly more heat to break the bonds than the researchers’ process of using an electric current.

Future research will focus on nearly eliminating carbon emissions in the process using various methods, including the use of renewable energy to drive the electric current.

Click here to read the full MIT News article. 

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