Isolation of cyanoformate suggests new carbon capture approaches

Fromn: Chemistry World

Simon Hadlington

cyanoformateThe formation of the cyanoformate ion helps to explain why plants’ ethylene producing enzymes aren’t poisoned by cyanide  © Science/AAAS

Researchers have for the first time isolated the fragile and elusive cyanoformate ion, and in doing so have not only opened up new avenues in the search for energetically efficient ways to capture carbon dioxide, but may have also solved a mystery that has baffled plant biochemists for decades. 

An extensive global research effort has been underway in recent years to find ways of trapping carbon dioxide in a bid to stem greenhouse gas emissions. A key requirement is that the carbon dioxide binds only weakly to a sorbent so that this can be recycled at little cost.

A team led by Jason Clyburne of St Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, and Heikki Tuononen of the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, were investigating weakly bonded carbon dioxide compounds. ‘Cyanoformate came out as one of these,’ says Clyburne. ‘Its existence had been speculated on for years, but it had never been detected. We found a lot of references to it in the context of ethylene formation in plants.’

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