Available Technology

Copper Nanoparticle Ensembles for Selective Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to C2-C3 Products in Aqueous Media 2017-021

A Berkeley Lab team led by Peidong Yang has developed an artificial photosynthesis pathway to generate C2-C3 products. The technology utilizes densely arranged copper nanoparticle ensembles to selectively reduce carbon dioxide to multi-carbon products at low overpotentials in bicarbonate salt aqueous electrolytes. A high surface area carbon paper support enables the copper nanoparticles to structurally transform into a unique catalytic material. By creating a suitable environment for structural transformation, this material can then selectively generate C2-C3 products such as ethylene, ethanol, and propanol with the least energy input demonstrated to date. Berkeley Lab researchers estimate that combining the system with photovoltaic devices could yield solar-to-fuel efficiency comparable to or better than natural photosynthesis for each product. Past attempts to capitalize on copper’s capability to produce multi-carbon products have relied on reducing certain forms of oxidized copper. However, unlike the Berkeley Lab technology, these methods often require large overpotentials. The Berkeley Lab approach also enables direct reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products without any intermediates.
High selectivity and efficiency for multi-carbon products, e.g., ethylene, ethanol, and propanol - Low energy input - Direct reduction of CO2 to multi-carbon products
Patent Status: 
Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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