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A photocatalyst for reducing CO2 to CH4

By Paul Grad |

Photocatalytic reduction of CO2 into a fuel is an attractive way to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, and there are many projects underway around the world to find ways of converting CO2 into chemicals, such as H2, CH4, ethanol, methanol and butanol. However, in order to utilize CO2 as a resource, it is essential to improve the light-absorption efficiency and the CO2-conversion efficiency, and to ensure that the photocatalyst helps prevent the production of secondary harmful substances. Although a number of active photocatalysts have been reported, they suffer from low product yield, instability and low quantum efficiency.

Now a team from the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST, Daegu, South Korea; https://en.dgist.ac.kr), led by professor Su-Il In, has succeeded in developing a TiO2-based high-efficiency photocatalyst that converts CO2 to CH4 by means of a simple reduction reaction. The catalyst is made by treating TiO2 with a strong reducing agent — sodium borohydride (NaBH4) — at 350°C for half an hour.

Sensitized with Pt nanoparticles, the material promotes solar spectrum photoconversion of CO2 to CH4 with an apparent quantum yield of 12.40% and a time-normalized CH4 -generation rate of 80.35 µmol/g.h. Professor In says to the best of his knowledge this is a record for photocatalytic-based CO2 reduction. He plans to further improve the CO2-conversion efficiency with a view to commercialization.

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