Cu-based electrocatalysts for solar fuels
A strongly emerging topic is how we can use renewable energy sources to produce fuels and chemicals from water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) using electroreduction. Energy efficiency and product selectivity of this conversion are strongly dependent on the electrocatalyst material. The uniquely high activity of copper (Cu) catalysts to electroreduce CO2 in aqueous solutions to hydrocarbons was reported by Hori almost 20 years ago , but has recently received much interest due to the possible relevance to convert solar electricity directly into fuels . Building on experience in our group, carbon-supported Cu-based catalysts will be explored, which are uniquely capable to produce hydrocarbons, alcohols and other products with relatively high Faradaic efficiencies from reduction of CO2 and H2O. In my project, I study CO2 electroreduction by using the electrocatalytic activity of Cu-based nanoparticles on conductive carbon materials. The influence of nanoparticle size, shape and composition will be investigated in detail, to reach understanding of how optimum product selectivity can be achieved. A general scheme of my project is show in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Production of hydrocarbons and other chemicals by the electroreduction of CO2 and H2O via sunlight-generated electricity.
 Y. Hori et al., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 85 (8), 2309-2326 (1989)
 M. Koper et al, Nanoscale, 3 (5), 2054-2073 (2011)