Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology researchers led by Professor Su-Il In from Department of Energy Science and Engineering have developed high-efficiency photocatalysts that convert carbon dioxide into methane or ethane with graphene-covered reduced titanium dioxide. The finding is expected to be utilized in the carbon dioxide reduction and recycling industries.

(a) Sample pictures obtained at different stages of synthesis Image Credit: Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology. Click image for the largest view.

Thanks to the global warming craze and the desire to shift to reusable fuel for existing resources due to reserve depletion, research on photocatalysts, which are essential in converting carbon dioxide and water into hydrocarbon fuels, is gaining attention.

The team’s research paper has been published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

Although many semiconductor materials with large band gaps are often used in photocatalyst studies, they are limited in absorbing solar energy in various areas. Thus, photocatalyst studies focusing on improving the photocatalyst structure and surface to increase solar energy absorption areas or utilizing two-dimensional materials with excellent electron transmission are under way.

Professor In’s research team developed a high-efficiency photocatalyst that can convert carbon dioxide into methane (CH4) or ethane (C2H6) by placing graphene on reduced titanium dioxide in a stable and efficient way.

The photocatalyst developed by the research team can selectively convert carbon dioxide from a gas to methane or ethane. The results showed that its generation volume is 259umol/g and 77umol/g of methane and ethane respectively and its conversion rate is 5.2% and 2.7% higher than conventional reduced titanium dioxide photocatalysts. In terms of ethane generation volume, this result shows the world’s highest efficiency under similar experimental conditions.

In addition, the research team proved for the first time that the pore moves toward graphene due to band bending phenomena visible from titanium dioxide and graphene interfaces through the international joint research conducted with the research team led by James R. Durrant at the Department of Chemistry of Imperial College London (ICL), UK using photoelectron spectroscopy.

The movement of the pore towards graphene activates reactions by causing electrons to gather on the surface of the reduced titanium dioxide and forms a large amount of radical methane (CH3) as polyelectrons engage in the reactions. The research team identified a mechanism for producing methane if this formed radical methane reacts with hydrogen ions and for producing ethane if the radical methane reacts with each other.

The catalyst material developed by the research team is expected to be applied to a variety of areas such as high-value-added material production in the future and be used to solve global warming problems and energy resource depletion issues by selectively producing higher levels of hydrocarbon materials using sunlight.

Professor In said, “The reduced titanium dioxide photocatalyst with graphene that has been developed this time has the advantage of being able to selectively produce CO2 as a usable chemical element such as methane or ethane. By conducting follow-up research that increases the conversation rate so that it can be commercialized, we will contribute to the development of technology for reducing carbon dioxide and turning it into a resource.”

Some time will be needed to tell if the team’s work can scale up economically. Then there are the questions. Foremost is what is the hydrogen source? There are many more that the press release isn’t addressing.

We’ll presume these matters are worked out over time and as scaling up is attempted the economics will become clear. One more press release please?


3 Comments so far

  1. Al Fin on August 20, 2018 9:01 AM

    Interesting approach that may eventually find an application for certain niches. Keep up the good work!

    The underlying caveat is that this type of thing can never be a grand solution because the underlying problem is fear. Science cannot cure fear as long as fear is being stoked to supercritical levels by politicians, journalists, professors, and activist groups.

    Fear of climate apocalypse is driving a great deal of economically dubious science and engineering. The latest recommendation from the inner circle of the apocalypse is to reduce human populations “by any means necessary.”

    Reducing human populations is something that people have learned how to do, and they may be driven by fear and a spurious expediency to do so. By any means necessary.

    It certainly sounds like a final solution, driven by an ideology that rests upon unproven hypotheses.

  2. Brian Westenhaus on August 20, 2018 11:12 PM

    Very very happy to see you here Al. BW

  3. Forced feeder on April 8, 2019 10:59 PM

    I like it

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