Electrocatalytic Conversion of CO2 and CO to Liquid Fuels


Matthew Kanan, Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, USA

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 11:00pm


Controlling the atmospheric CO2 concentration may ultimately require recycling CO2 into liquid fuels and commodity chemicals using renewable energy as the power source. Arguably the greatest challenge for this vision is to develop efficient catalysts that reduce CO2 and its derivatives to a fuel of choice. This talk will describe our development of “oxide-derived” nanocrystalline electrocatalysts. These materials are prepared by reducing metal oxide precursors to form continuous networks of interconnected metal nanocrystals with a high density of grain boundaries. The process of metal oxide reduction kinetically traps metastable structures with unique catalytic properties. We have developed oxide-derived nanocrystalline catalysts that reduce CO2 to CO and operate at diffusion-limited current densities at potentials very close to the thermodynamic minimum. We have also developed oxide-derived catalysts that selectively reduce CO to multi-carbon oxygenates. The catalysts all operate in water at ambient temperature and pressure and are remarkably robust. The structural origins of the catalytic activity will be discussed as well as the prospects of preparing nanocrystalline catalysts by alternative syntheses. Oxide-derived nanocrystalline materials enable electrochemical conversions that could make CO2 a valuable feedstock for synthetic liquid fuel.