CO2 to Methanol Project

In recent years, enormous efforts have been devoted to promoting renewable energy and reduction of CO2 in order to decarbonise the society. However, the efficient utilisation of solar energy and reduction of CO2 is still challenging because of energy conversion efficiency and sluggish CO2 conversion kinetics. Among the various CO2 conversion technologies, photocatalytic CO2 conversion to hydrocarbon fuels has received increasing attention.

Why we do this

In recent years, enormous efforts have been devoted to promoting renewable energy and reduction of CO2 in order to decarbonise the society. However, the efficient utilisation of solar energy and reduction of CO2 is still challenging because of energy conversion efficiency and sluggish CO2 conversion kinetics. Among the various CO2 conversion technologies, photocatalytic CO2 conversion to hydrocarbon fuels has received increasing attention. One of the ongoing and obvious issues with photo-activated reactions is the necessity to permit light access to the catalytic material.  Typically, this has been a problem overlooked by materials scientists and catalyst chemists who instead focus on deriving the best from the material by different means.

We discovered a few intriguing fundamental obstacles that if resolved will bring significant advances.  These focus around reactor technology development for the photocatalytic CO2 conversion process: photon active sites in the materials, reactor light harvesting and photon delivery into the bulk materials.  Better designed reactors with more active and selective materials will provide higher per unit efficiency of these processes and will have the impact of pushing these photothermal processes towards commerciality.

How we do this

In the current proposed project, we have sourced a strong team from university, multiple BUs and groups with the required expertise for the different aspects of the work to supervise a PhD student and aim to further optimize the materials for photocatalytic CO2 hydrogenation to methanol, investigate on how to enhance photon delivery into the bulk materials, and implement ideas into device development, aiming to produce the potential IP space in a new generation of solar platform technology.

What happened

A PhD student was secured and a student agreement was signed off; Project started on April 6th 2020; Consumables and reactors for catalytic testing have been purchased and student started literature review and lab work on materials synthesis 3 days a week in this COVI 19 restriction conditions.

A Synchrotron experiment is arranged to investigate feasibility of the designed characterization technique if they can serve the purpose of our current project work.

What next

PhD student will continue to work on material synthesis and testing to identify suitable materials and understand the reaction mechanism.

If materials show promising results, reactor design will be attempted to see if light receiving capability of the reactors can be improved.

Modeling/simulation work is also encouraged to help investigate the reaction mechanism, which on one hand will help to  understand the reaction fundamentals, and on the other hand allow the student to have more capacity to comprise the impact of the restriction conditions that reduced access to lab work on site.

For more information, please contact

Yunxia Yang
Senior Research Scientist, Gas Processing
  • Dr Yunxia Yang's research area has primarily spanned from gas separation to catalysis with the focus on novel materials for H2 and CO2 utilisation