CO2 to fuels


Damien Hirst, Tryptophan, 2012

Our strong reliance on fossil fuels has exponentially increased the CO2 levels in the atmosphere during the last century. One of the promising approaches to minimize CO2 emission is to convert it to added-value products and fuels using clean energy (solar, wind, and tidal).

However, the development of a sustainable technology for CO2 conversion is an extremely difficult task due to the kinetic and thermodynamic challenges of this reaction caused by the relative chemical inertness of CO2 molecule, the large number of elementary steps involved, and low intrinsic catalytic activity, selectivity, and stability of CO2-electroreduction active metals such as Cu, Sn, Zn, and Bi.

CO2 scheme2

CO2 electroreduction products and their current market price. The green circles indicate number of proton-coupled electron transfers required for each of these products

One of the approaches to addressing the limitations of (nano)structured metals is the development of alternative materials. My research focuses on such promising alternative materials as transition metal sulfides, doped carbon, and polymer-metal hybrid materials, which are poorly explored as of yet. To understand the role of molecular promoters of CO2 electroreduction, I am applying, apart from electrochemical methods, advanced operando Raman spectroelectrochemical  and theoretical (Density Functional Theory) methods.

The outcomes of this work can also find applications in corrosion protection, fuel cell catalysis, sensors, and organic synthesis.