Decarbonization Avenue : C2V - CO2 to Value

In fact

CO2 to methane using photothermal effect

Researchers at KAUST have developed an efficient catalyst that uses light energy to convert CO2 and hydrogen into methane (CH4).

"Our approach is based on the synergistic combination of light and heat, known as the photothermal effect," says postdoc Diego Mateo. He explains that the heat is generated by the interaction of light with the catalyst.

While some other industrial approaches require heating from external sources to attain temperatures as high as 500 degrees Celsius, the KAUST research demonstrates that the reaction can be achieved using just the photothermal effect of daylight.

The catalyst is built from nickel nanoparticles on a layer of barium titanate. It captures the light in a way that kicks electrons into high energy states, known as "hot electrons". These electrons then initiate the chemical reaction that converts CO2 into methane. Under optimum conditions, the catalyst generates methane with nearly 100 percent selectivity and with impressive efficiency.

A major advantage is the wide range of the spectrum of light harnessed, including all visible wavelengths, in addition to the ultraviolet rays that many catalysts are restricted to. This is hugely significant since ultraviolet light comprises only 4 to 5 percent of the energy available in sunlight.

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  • Chemistry & chemical engineering
  • Heat & thermodynamics
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  • University researcher