Three strategic areas of research and innovation are being pursued that taken together support our overall vision: (1) gain new fundamental insight into the mechanisms by which metals (in molecular, supported, or bulk form) activate CO2, (2) co-develop with industrial partners new processes by which activated CO2 is incorporated into the industrial synthesis of commodity targets, and (3) co-develop with industrial and utility partners new approaches to compressing and purifying CO2 from flue gas of a combustion-based power plant to a state that is suitable for utilization as a concentrated feedstock. The potential benefits to society of this research are significant. The successful development of CO2 as an alternative feedstock would profoundly impact the chemical industry, markedly reducing the carbon footprint associated with producing large-scale chemical commodities, and alleviating the industry’s vulnerability to shortages and price fluctuations associated with the dependence on petroleum-based carbon that is non-renewable and geopolitically sensitive.
Training and innovation are also key components of this center. The integrated plan for innovation involves collaborative activities that draw on the combined expertise of faculty and staff in Brown’s Technology Ventures Office and the Rhode Island Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In addition, student researchers associated with this center will have access to both graduate and undergraduate level programs at Brown that focus on innovation and entrepreneurship: the Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME), a Master’s level program, and the Program in Commerce, Organizations, and Entrepreneurship (COE), which offers classes in entrepreneurship for undergraduates. Members of underrepresented minorities will be engaged at both Brown and Yale through the Leadership Alliance Program, a national organization headquartered at Brown.