Advancing Renewable Energy: CO₂ Conversion to Synthetic Fuels

Researchers Sabrina C. Zignani and Antonino S. Aricò have made significant strides in the field of renewable energy with their latest study on CO₂ conversion to synthetic fuels. Utilizing a flow cell reactor with copper and silver-based cathodes, they demonstrate improved selectivity and efficiency in converting carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals, including ethylene, ethanol, and propanol. This innovative approach holds promise for sustainable fuel production, contributing to efforts in reducing atmospheric CO₂ and combating climate change. 


As a result of electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2), value-added chemicals like as synthetic fuels and chemical feedstocks can be produced. In the current state of the art, copper-based materials are most widely used being the most effective catalysts for this reaction. It is still necessary to improve the reaction rate and product selectivity of CuOx for electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR). The main objective of this work was synthesized and evaluate the copper oxide electrocatalyst combined with silver (CuO 70% Ag 30%) for the conversion of carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels. The catalysts have been prepared by the oxalate method and assessed in a flow cell system. The results of electrochemical experiments were carried out at room temperature and at different potentials (-1.05 V–0.75 V vs. RHE in presence of 0.1 M KHCO3) and gas and liquid chromatographic analysis are summarized. The CuOx-based electrodes demonstrated the selective of ~ 25% at -0.55 V for formic acid (HCOOH) and over CuO -Ag and selective of ethylene at ~ 20% over CuOx at -1.05 V. Other products were formed as ethylene, ethanol, and propanol (C2H4, EtOH, PrOH) at more positive potentials. On the other hand, carbon monoxide, acetate, ethylene glycol, propinaldehyde, glycoaldehyde and glyoxal (CO, CH3COO, C2H6O2, C3H6O, C2H4O2, C2H2O2) have been formed and detected. Based on the results of these studies, it appears that the formation of synthetic fuels from CO2 at room temperature in alkaline environment can be very promising.

For more detailed insights, read the full study here.