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University of Delaware - Nanoporous Silver for renewable energy resources

DCN Corp® - University of Delaware (UD) engineering research team led by Professor Feng Jiao has developed a highly selective catalyst capable of electrochemically converting Carbon dioxide (CO2) to Carbon monoxide (CO) with 92% efficiency. Credit - Professor Feng Jiao, UD, USAUniversity of Delaware (UD) researchers have reported a new catalyst to convert greenhouse gases into chemicals

UD researchers have managed to develop a highly selective catalyst capable of electrochemically converting Carbon dioxide (CO2) into Carbon monoxide (CO) with 92% efficiency. Subsequently the CO was employed to develop useful chemicals. Please Note the researchers published their findings in Nature Communications.

According to the Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering and the project's lead researcher, Feng Jiao - "Converting carbon dioxide to useful chemicals in a selective and efficient way remains a major challenge in renewable and sustainable energy research."

Co-authors on the paper include a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Qi Lu, and a graduate student working with Jiao, Jonathan Rosen.

The researchers came to understand that when using a nanoporous Silver (Ag) electrocatalyst, it was in fact 3,000 times more active than polycrystalline Ag. Polycrystalline Ag is a commonly used catalyst in converting CO2 to useful chemicals.

Ag is considered a promising material for CO2 reduction catalyst, because it offers high selectivity, approximately 81%, and thereafter it costs much less than other precious metal catalysts. In addition, because it is inorganic Ag remains stable under harsh catalytic environments.

Jiao informed that the exceptionally high activity is due to the UD researchers having manage to develop an electrocatalyst which is large and has a highly curved internal surface. The internal surface is approximately 150 times larger and 20 times more active than polycrystalline Ag. Jiao also went on to explain that the active sites on the curved internal surface required a smaller than expected voltage to overcome the activation energy barrier needed to drive the reaction.

Jiao furthermore stated that the resultant CO can be used as an industry feedstock for producing synthetic fuels, and at the same time reducing industrial CO2 emissions by up to 40%.

To understand that their findings were unique, the researchers decided to compare UD developed nanoporous Ag catalyst with other potential CO2 electrocatalysts including polycrystalline Ag and other Ag nanostructures, such as nanoparticles (NP) and/or nanowires.

Testing was undertaken on to identical conditions, which confirmed that the non-porous Ag catalyst had significant advantages above other Ag catalysts in water environments.

Over the last 20 years reducing greenhouse CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use is considered critical for human society. For example, because of this electrocatalytic CO2 reduction has attracted considerable interest primarily due to the ability to use electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and wave.

Jiao stated that ideally everyone would like to convert CO2 produced in power plants, refineries and petrochemical plants-to-fuels or other chemicals via renewable energy usage - "Selective conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide is a promising route for clean energy but it is a technically difficult process to accomplish," - and - "We're hopeful that the catalyst we've developed can pave the way toward future advances in this area." Original article available here

The DU research clearly sells the potential of nonporous materials for catalysis, and DCN Corp very much believes it can provide a nano-fabrication methodology easily facilitating the above testing conditions.  Therefore, if you and/or your colleagues are interested in making the above research reality - please ensure to contact the company as soon as practicably possible.