Iron Age 2.0
from corrosion to creation
We are dedicated to participating in the global initiative in green chemistry to develop innovative and sustainable materials. Our work builds on a foundation of iron and specifically certain corrosion reactions. It might seem that this is an old and familiar topic that has nothing more to offer and that the industrial Iron Age itself is waning. On the contrary, a second Iron Age is just beginning and many new roles are being discovered for this versatile element and its myriad combinations. In applications as varied as medicine, catalysis, and energy, iron is capable of surprising new chemical tricks. Iron is abundant, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive. It is being found that under the right conditions it can take the place of metals that have none of those qualities.
In our approach, we explore the potential benefits of the basic reaction between iron, water, and carbon dioxide at room temperature. This is a corrosion process but unlike ordinary oxidation that leads to rust, because of the incorporation of carbon it opens up a rich connection with organic compounds. In the process, we capture carbon in the form of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide or right out of combustion exhaust. Organo-metallic chemistry is a fast-growing and important field and iron will play an increasingly large role.