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The photocatalytic reduction of CO2 into CO

By Tetsuo Satoh |

Conversion of carbon dioxide into useful carbon sources, such as carbon monoxide, formic acid and formaldehyde, is attracting considerable interest as a way to recycle and utilize CO2. A step in this direction is the direct photocatalytic reduction of CO2 into CO using water as a source of electrons. Researchers in the group of Kentaro Teramura at Kyoto University (Kyoto, Japan; www.moleng.kyoto-u.ac.jp/~moleng_04/teramura/index.html) have developed a catalyst system that uses a silver-loaded Ga2O3 photocatalyst with a ZnGa2O4 layer. The Ag serves as a co-catalyst to enhance CO evolution, while the ZnGa2O4 inhibits the generation of H2. Now, the researchers have doubled the conversion efficiency by adding a rare-earth compound, such as ytterbium-based oxide, to their basic catalyst system. The reaction is performed at room temperature in a flow reactor with an internal ultraviolet (UV; wavelength less than 265 nm) light sources. The laboratory-scale system (30 mL/min) generated 100µmol/h of CO with 80–90% selectivity. The researchers now plan to enhance the CO selectivity and modify the catalyst system to enable operation at longer wavelengths so that solar radiation can be used.
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