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Carbon Conversion Program

DOE’s Carbon Conversion Program aspires to develop technologies to transform CO2 and other carbon byproducts and wastes into valuable products in an efficient, economical, and environmentally-friendly manner. Research and development (R&D) activities address the challenges and potential opportunities associated with integrating a CO2 conversion system with various power and industrial plants or carbon capture systems, such as waste heat integration, wastewater reduction, flue gas contaminant reduction, and reduced energy demand. An ongoing program objective is to make technologies applicable for near-term implementation. R&D is also developing advanced catalysts, reactor systems, and processes for more efficient conversion of CO2 to valuable chemicals to provide a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes.

The emerging field of CO2 conversion encompasses many possible products and applications: fuels, organic and inorganic chemicals, food and feeds, construction materials, enhanced resource recovery (e.g., oil, gas, water, and geothermal energy), energy storage, wastewater treatment, and others.

Carbon Conversion
Major Carbon Conversion Product Pathways


The Carbon Conversion Program covers research within three primary carbon conversion pathways of the four currently identified by the program:

  • Carbon Uptake using Algae – The use of CO2 in agricultural and aquacultural systems for the cultivation and harvesting of biomass. Algae are extremely efficient photosynthetic organisms – sometimes referred to as CO2 eating machines. The biomass produced in algal systems can be processed and converted to fuels, chemicals, food for fish, animals and humans, soil supplements, and other specialty and fine products.
  • Catalytic Pathways into Fuels and Chemicals – The conversion of CO2 into valuable organic products, ranging from neat fuels and fuel blending stocks to commodity, specialty, and fine chemicals. Catalytic pathways can include thermochemical, electrochemical, photochemical, non-equilibrium plasma chemistry and microbially-mediated approaches. Many catalytic pathways require catalysts or integrated processes to lower the energy needed to drive these systems. This pathway can transform wasted carbon into products such as synthetic fuels, chemicals, plastics, and solid carbon products like carbon fibers.
  • Mineralization into Inorganic Materials – The reaction of CO2 to produce inorganic products, such as carbonate cements and aggregate, or bicarbonates and associated inorganic chemicals. Carbon dioxide mineralizes with alkaline reactants, which can include industrial wastes from power plants, steel and other industries. Carbonate materials may be an effective long-term storage option for CO2 especially for use in the built environment.
  • CO2 as Working Fluid & Other Services* – The physical use of CO2 in processes, such as enhanced oil recovery (EOR), the use of CO2 as a solvent, and the use of CO2 as a refrigerant. R&D in technologies that use CO2 for EOR is a focus in NETL’s Carbon Storage Program. The Carbon Utilization Program is not currently pursuing technologies in this CO2 utilization pathway.

The diverse portfolio of NETL’s Carbon Conversion projects can be viewed in the interactive map below. Projects can be sorted by Technology Area. Clicking on a location allows you to learn more about each individual project and adjusting the Icon Spread Factor allows you to simultaneously view projects with the same locations.


Explore the Site



NETL implements this effort as part of DOE’s Clean Coal and Carbon Management Program.

Technology area contact:
Joseph Stoffa