The longstanding reliance on fossil fuels has boosted the atmospheric CO2 concentration to a level that is unprecedented in modern geological history.
Since the use of carbon-containing fuels is entrenched in society, controlling the atmospheric CO2 concentration may ultimately require recycling CO2 into liquid fuels and commodity chemicals using renewable energy as the power source. Arguably the greatest challenge for this vision is to develop efficient CO2 reduction catalysts.
This talk will describe our development of oxide-derived metal nanoparticle electrocatalysts. Oxide-derived metal nanoparticles are prepared by electrochemically reducing metal oxide precursors, which results in highly strained nanocrystals.
I will describe examples of these catalysts that electrochemically reduce CO2 to CO with exceptional energetic efficiency as well as a catalyst that selectively reduces CO to two-carbon oxygenates. The catalysts operate in water at ambient temperature and pressure and are remarkably robust. The reduction mechanisms will be discussed based on electrokinetic measurements. Metal oxide reduction represents a top-down approach to metal nanoparticle synthesis that produces unique surface structures for catalysis.