APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Renewable C2-C3 fuels and chemicals
- High selectivity and efficiency for multi-carbon products, e.g., ethylene, ethanol, and propanol
- Low energy input
- Direct reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products
A Berkeley Lab team led by Peidong Yang has developed an artificial photosynthesis pathway to generate C2-C3 products. The technology utilizes densely arranged copper nanoparticle ensembles to selectively reduce carbon dioxide to multi-carbon products at low overpotentials in bicarbonate salt aqueous electrolytes.
A high surface area carbon paper support enables the copper nanoparticles to structurally transform into a unique catalytic material. By creating a suitable environment for structural transformation, this material can then selectively generate C2-C3 products such as ethylene, ethanol, and propanol with the least energy input demonstrated to date. Berkeley Lab researchers estimate that combining the system with photovoltaic devices could yield solar-to-fuel efficiency comparable to or better than natural photosynthesis for each product.
Past attempts to capitalize on copper’s capability to produce multi-carbon products have relied on reducing certain forms of oxidized copper. However, unlike the Berkeley Lab technology, these methods often require large overpotentials. The Berkeley Lab approach also enables direct reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products without any intermediates.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Kim, D., Kley, C., Li. Y., Yang, P. Copper nanoparticle ensembles for selective electroreduction of CO2 to C2-C3 products. PNAS, Vol. 114, No. 40, 10560-10565.
Yang, S. Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion, Berkeley Lab News Center, Sept. 18, 2017.
Video and slide presentation (LinkedIn post)
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 15/840,435 (Publication No. 2018-0209054). Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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