Carbon Dioxide Reduction
The increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a growing concern for its contribution to climate change. Carbon dioxide can be electrochemically reduced to hydrocarbon and oxygenates, simultaneously producing an energy-dense fuel while helping to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Hydrocarbon and oxygenate fuels have a significantly higher energy-density by volume than hydrogen and are more easily incorporated into the existing energy infrastructure. A primary goal for solar fuels researchers is therefore to combine water-splitting with carbon dioxide reduction to produce hydrocarbon and liquid fuels. A major challenge in this area is to achieve a high product selectivity for the desired chemical species while minimizing the required electrical bias. Efforts at the Conn Center are focused on investigating and controlling the heterogeneously catalyzed carbon dioxide reduction reaction to drive the formation of specific products. This work includes the study of new catalysts, the effects of catalyst surface sites and arrangement, the effects of ionic liquid electrolytes, and using intermediate products in a cascade system to achieve the final fuel product. Carbon dioxide reduction catalysts are also incorporated into photoelectrochemical systems for the solar-driven synthesis of carbonaceous fuels and products.