Solar Energy Driven Microfluidic Reactor for Continuous Production of Syngas by CO2 Reduction

2013-10-24T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Davide Pisasale
The anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere have been exponentially increasing since the industrial revolution, and have been recently recognized as the main cause of ongoing climate change. Predictions of possible future scenarios suggest that various routes for GHG emissions reduction must be undertaken, including progressive shifts from traditional fossil fuels to green, renewable, carbon-free energy generation technologies. Additionally, carbon-capture systems would represent a significant tool for stabilizing current atmospheric CO2 concentration. Captured CO2 can be subsequently recycled (e.g. for enhanced oil recovery) or converted into high-energy density chemicals, outlining a potential flexible approach for storing excess energy produced by renewable energy sources. Electrochemical reduction of CO2 has been recently recognized as a strong candidate to perform CO2-to-fuel conversion at favorable energy efficiencies. Nonetheless, the development of a cost-effective catalytic system that would perform the conversion at a low-overpotential, high current efficiency (faradaic efficiency), and high conversion rate (current density), remains a challenge. This paper proposes a low-cost co-catalytic system which exhibits exceptional performance - i.e. negligible overpotential, nearly 100% current efficiency, and the greatest current density reported thus far - for electrochemical CO2 reduction. The integration of the system in a microfluidic-type reactor - powered by a solar panel - provides promising results for effective continuous CO2 conversion to syngas fuel.