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Production of Liquid Solar Fuels from CO2 and Water: Using Renewable Energy Resources

English title Production of Liquid Solar Fuels from CO2 and Water: Using Renewable Energy Resources
Applicant Braun Artur
Number 149031
Funding scheme Bilateral programmes
Research institution Labor für Hochleistungskeramik EMPA
Institution of higher education Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology - EMPA
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.03.2014 - 28.02.2018
Approved amount 224'358.00
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Keywords (8)

electrosynthesis; photoelectrochemistry; artificial photosynthesis; sustainable energy economy; greenhouse gas; methanol; solar hydrogen; CO2 reduction

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Elektrischer Strom wird in immer grösseren Mengen als Solarstrom gewonnen. Unterdessen wird die Speicherung solarer Energie als notwendig erkannt. Während Stromspeicherung als kostenintensiv erachtet wird, kommen solare Brennstoffe als kostengünstigere Alternative in Betracht. Solare Brennstoffe können in künstlicher Photosynthese gewonnen werden, deren einfachster Wasserstoffgas ist und durch solare Wasserspaltung photoelektrochemisch gewonnen werden kann.
Lay summary

Der Bedarf nach nachhaltig gewonnener Energie wird immer bedeutender. Elektrischer Strom wird in immer grösseren Mengen als Solarstrom gewonnen. Unterdessen wird die Speicherung solarer Energie als notwendig erkannt. Während die Stromspeicherung als kostenintensiv erachtet wird, kommen solare Brennstoffe als kostengünstigere Alternative in Betracht. Solare Brennstoffe können theoretisch mittels künstlicher Photosynthese gewonnen werden, deren einfachster das Wasserstoffgas ist und durch solare Wasserspaltung in photoelektrochemischen Zellen gewonnen werden kann.

Schliesst man das Treibhausgas Kohlendioxid in die Reaktionsmechanismen der künstlichen Photosynthese mit ein, lassen sich theoretisch Kohlenwasserstoffe herstellen, unter anderem auch solche in flüssiger Form. Die dabei zu überwindenden technischen Probleme sind beachtlich, aber im Prinzip lösbar.

Südafrika verfügt über eine enorme Energieeinstrahlung durch die Sonne sowie über reiche Vorkommen an Edelmetallen,üwelche als Elektrokatalysatoren bei der künstlichen Photosynthese von Nutzen sind. Darüber hinaus hat Südafrika wichtige technologische Erfahrung bei der Herstellung flüssiger Treibstoffe mittels Fischer-Tropsch Synthese.

In Zusammenarbeit mit der University of Pretoria und weiteren Partnern in Südafrika werden die Schweizer Projektpartner einen Reaktor entwerfen, in dem mit Solarenergie Wasser elektrochemisch in Sauerstoff und Wasserstoff gespalten und der Wasserstoff mit Kohlendioxid elektrochemisch zu Kohlenwasserstoffen synthetisiert wird.

Bitte sehen Sie sich folgenden Hyperlink an:  http://www.sun2fuels.ch 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.05.2014

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
For the reduction of the human carbon dioxide footprint we propose to use solar (or other renewable) energy and convert atmospheric or technical carbon dioxide and water to methanol, a liquid fuel which is easy to store and transport using readily existing technology.
Lay summary
This use-inspired proposal consists of two parts:

1) Water electrolysis in the presence of CO2 at the cathode which is coated with a conventional metal oxide hydrogenation catalyst such as Cu/ZnO which is expected to give methanol with high selectivity and yield. This part is centred at University of Pretoria and may be expected to produce first results during the first 18 months of the project, preferably obtained with a demonstration device, and will be developed further and scaled up towards a full device in the final 18 months period.

2) Artificial synthesis of methanol from CO2 and water in a photo-electrochemical cell for diagnostic monitoring and possible application of bias voltages, centred at Empa. The planned light harvesting components (Cu2O-CuO photocathodes and hematite-based photoanode heterostructures) have suitable band gaps (2.0-2.2 eV and 1.3-1.6 eV, respectively) and high absorption coefficients over a considerable part of the solar spectrum. The anode may initially be simply a platinum foil, but in view of avoiding transport limitations the design of a setup with short transport distances in the electrolyte will be addressed. Ideally, the system may be developed to work as a pure photoreduction in the absence of electrochemical assistance, much as natural photosynthesis which is to be mimicked. Empa will carry out initial exploratory experiments which permit a selection of systems for deeper investigation.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 27.05.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Nanostructured hematite thin films for photoelectrochemical water splitting
Maabong K. Machatine A. G. J. Mwankemwa B. S. Braun A. Bora D. K. Toth R. Diale M. (2018), Nanostructured hematite thin films for photoelectrochemical water splitting, in Physica B: Condensed Matter, 535, 67-71.
Density functional theory study of Cu doped {0001} and {01ī2} surfaces of hematite for water splitting
Simfukwe J. Mapasha R. E. Braun A. & Diale M. (2018), Density functional theory study of Cu doped {0001} and {01ī2} surfaces of hematite for water splitting, in MRS Advances, 1.
Charge carrier dynamics in semiconductor-electrolyte interface of hematite based per water-splitting cell
Moore Gareth-John (2017), Charge carrier dynamics in semiconductor-electrolyte interface of hematite based per water-splitting cell, University of Pretoria, Pretoria.
Hydrogen production with holes: what we learn from operando studies
Braun A. Maabong K. Diale M. M. & Toth R. (2017), Hydrogen production with holes: what we learn from operando studies, in SPIE Newsroom, 1-4.
Introduction
Braun A. Diale M. Malherbe J. B. & Braun M. (2017), Introduction, in Journal of Materials Research, 32(21), 1-2.
A facile nonpolar organic solution process of a nanostructured hematite photoanode with high efficiency and stability for water splitting
Wang Jian-Jun, Hu Yelin, Toth Rita, Fortunato Giuseppino, Braun Artur (2016), A facile nonpolar organic solution process of a nanostructured hematite photoanode with high efficiency and stability for water splitting, in J. Mater. Chem. A, 4, 2821-2825.
Influence of anodization time on the surface modifications on α-Fe2O3 photoanode upon anodization
Maabong Kelebogile, Hu Yelin, Braun Artur, Machatine Augusto G.J., Diale Mmantsae (2016), Influence of anodization time on the surface modifications on α-Fe2O3 photoanode upon anodization, in Journal of Materials Research, FirstView, 1-8.
International Exploratory Workshop on Catalysis, Photoelectrochemistry, and X-ray Spectroscopy for Renewable Energy
Braun Artur, Diale Mmantsae, Huthwelker Thomas, van Bokhoven Jeroen A. (2016), International Exploratory Workshop on Catalysis, Photoelectrochemistry, and X-ray Spectroscopy for Renewable Energy, in Synchrotron Radiation News, 29(1), 14-16.
Morphology, structural and optical properties of iron oxide thin film photoanodes in photoelectrochemical cell: Effect of electrochemical oxidation
Maabong Kelebogile, Machatine Augusto G., Hu Yelin, Braun Artur, Nambala Fred J., Diale Mmantsae (2016), Morphology, structural and optical properties of iron oxide thin film photoanodes in photoelectrochemical cell: Effect of electrochemical oxidation, in Physica B: Condensed Matter , 480, 91-94.
Safe and decentralised hydrogen fuel production and storage for residential building and mobility applications
Braun A. Diale M. M. Maabong K. D. Toth R. (2016), Safe and decentralised hydrogen fuel production and storage for residential building and mobility applications, Global Risk Forum Davos, Davos.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Bongjin S. Mun/Hanyang Univ. Korean Republic (South Korea) (Asia)
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. EC Constable/Uni Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
University of Pretoria/Chemistry South Africa (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Bogdanoff/HZB Germany (Europe)
- Research Infrastructure
Raoul Frese / VUA Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
University of Pretoria/Physics South Africa (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Swiss South African Joint Research Programme MID-TERM WORKSHOP Poster Liquid Solar Fuels from CO2 and Water 22.10.2015 Basel, Switzerland Braun Artur;
Swiss-South Africa Nano Workshop via the UNESCO Unisa Africa Chair in Nanosciences and Nanotechnology Talk given at a conference Materials for Solar Fuel Production 14.04.2014 Somerset, iTHEMBA LABS, South Africa Braun Artur;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
MRS spring 2015 Symposium on electrocatalyis 07.04.2015 San Francisco, United States of America

Knowledge transfer events

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Mmantsae DIALE Red Chair Statement at the IDRC Davos 2016 Global Risk Forum GRFDavos YouTube Chanel International 2016
Media relations: print media, online media Austausch mit Südafrika EMPA intern Italian-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2014
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) http://sun2fuels.ch/SSARJP/index.html sun2fuels International 2014

Awards

Title Year
Best Poster Award for Josef Simfukwe Poster Authors Josef Simfukwe (U Pretoria and Copperbeld Univ.), Mmantsae Diale (U Pretoria) and A. Braun (Empa) 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
162232 SNF Korean Swiss project: Molecular and physical aspects of dye sensitization of photoelec-trodes with copper-based sensitizer molecules 01.02.2016 Bilateral programmes
147413 International Exploratory Workshop on Soft X-rays, Electrochemistry, and Energy Materials 01.05.2013 International Exploratory Workshops
133944 Oxide heterointerfaces in assemblies for photoelectrochemical applications 01.11.2010 International short research visits
161673 International Exploratory Workshop on Photoelectrochemistry, Catalysis and X-ray spectroscopy 01.07.2015 International Exploratory Workshops
121306 Fundamental Aspects of Photocatalysis and Photoelectrochemistry / Basic Research Instrumentation for Functional Characterization 01.07.2008 R'EQUIP
137868 Reaction-diffusion processes for the growth of patterned structures and architectures: A bottom-up approach for photoelectrochemical electrodes 01.03.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
132126 Defects in the bulk and on surfaces and interfaces of metal oxides with photoelectrochemical properties: In-situ photoelectrochemical and resonant x-ray and electron spectroscopy studies 01.06.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
161673 International Exploratory Workshop on Photoelectrochemistry, Catalysis and X-ray spectroscopy 01.07.2015 International Exploratory Workshops

Abstract

Please get updates at http://www.sun2fuels.chFor the reduction of the human carbon dioxide footprint we propose to use solar (or other renewable) energy and convert atmospheric or technical carbon dioxide and water to methanol, a liquid fuel which is easy to store and transport using readily existing technology. This use-inspired proposal consists of two parts:1) Water electrolysis in the presence of CO2 at the cathode which is coated with a conventional metal oxide hydrogenation catalyst such as Cu/ZnO which is expected to give methanol with high selectivity and yield. This part is centred at University of Pretoria and may be expected to produce first results during the first 18 months of the project, preferably obtained with a demonstration device, and will be developed further and scaled up towards a full device in the final 18 months period.2) Artificial synthesis of methanol from CO2 and water in a photo-electrochemical cell for diagnostic monitoring and possible application of bias voltages, centred at Empa. The planned light harvesting components (Cu2O-CuO photocathodes and hematite-based photoanode heterostructures) have suitable band gaps (2.0-2.2 eV and 1.3-1.6 eV, respectively) and high absorption coefficients over a considerable part of the solar spectrum. The anode may initially be simply a platinum foil, but in view of avoiding transport limitations the design of a setup with short transport distances in the electrolyte will be addressed. Ideally, the system may be developed to work as a pure photoreduction in the absence of electrochemical assistance, much as natural photosynthesis which is to be mimicked. Empa will carry out initial exploratory experiments which permit a selection of systems for deeper investigation.
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