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Metal-free catalyst, efficient for the conversion of carbon dioxide to fuels, is developed

The production of value-added chemicals from carbon dioxide (CO2) is highly desirable, since it contributes for closing the antropogenic carbon cycle. In that way, several research groups have devoted efforts to develop efficient catalysts for this transformation. Eletrocatalysts, in special, present a great potential for this type of reaction, since those are able to reduce CO2 to formate, for instance. However, the majority of this type of catalysts is based on noble metals such as silver.

A breakthrough in this direction was achieved by a Chinese research group lead by Prof. Yi Xie, which developed a cobalt-based catalyst, a non-noble metal, for the CO2 electroreduction reaction.1 In spite of the developed process to present great efficiency and low energy losses due to the low overpotential (the potential above the one thermodynamically required for the process to occur), it is known that the worldwide cobalt reservoirs are limited, what would compromise the substantial scalability of this process.

In that way, the development of protocols that employ metal-free catalysts is highly important. In this context, Austrian researchers lead by Prof. Philipp Stadler developed a conducting polymer, the polydopamine, which is based on eumelanine from hair and skin pigments, able to promote the coveted transformation with high efficiency. In this case, the dopamine monomer was deposited over a carbon felt electrode in an oxidant environment, and the resulting system was able to promote the CO2 reduction reaction with high efficiency and low energy loss.2

The development of electrocatalytic processes is one of CERSusChem research subjects, involving prominent researchers in this field. For further information, take a look at the “Research” section of our website and learn more about our researchers.



1 S. Gao et al, Nature 2016, 529, 68–71.

2 H. Coskun et al, Sci. Adv. 2017, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700686