Decarbonization Avenue : C2V - CO2 to Value

In fact

Solar-accelerated carbon-dioxide splitting

Most avenues today considering green hydrogen production are seeking the use of renewable power (solar or wind power, typically), along with a catalyst, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. When CO2 is introduced into the mix, it is possible to have co-electrolysis such that the reaction is also able to split CO2 into CO and oxygen. The result of such co-electrolysis could be an organic mixture called synthetic gas, or in a different setup, it could also directly lead to the production of chemicals or fuels.

Interesting efforts are underway to have similar reactions take place, not with electricity, but wish just light. Termed photocatalysis, this process uses the photonic energy in sunlight to drive the reaction.

Recenely, Swinburne University of Technology’s Associate Professor Tianyi Ma received an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship to pursue his work using solar energy directly in photocatalysis, to repurpose abundant carbon dioxide emitted during industrial processes into “solar” fuels such as green methane, methanol and carbon monoxide.

The efficiencies of Ma’s technology are currently lower than photovoltaics which have been developed to achieve between 20% and 30% conversion of light into electricity. His work with new-generation carbon dioxide photoreduction catalysts — perovskite-based ferroelectrics — have so far achieved a solar-to-fuels efficiency of 2-5%, but that’s increasing.

Relevant for

  • Thermodynamics & heat sciences professional
  • Electrical engineer
  • Chemical engineer
  • Electrochemical engineer
  • Material sciences professional
  • Solar power professional

Innovation sector

  • Chemistry & chemical engineering
  • Material sciences
  • Physics

Other In fact


  • University researcher