Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru.
| Photo Credit: file photo

Researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have synthesized a novel and highly efficient photocatalyst that can convert carbon dioxide (CO2) to the high-value products ethene and ethylene, which are used as fuel gases.

According to the Department of Science and Technology, harnessing solar energy for fuel production is crucial to a sustainable future. In this context, efficient photocatalysts are needed to convert solar energy to fuel.

Highly valued products

“These photocatalysts can, in fact, efficiently generate useful and high-valued products from CO2, which is important for solar fuel production. Now, while recent developments have yielded some beneficial results towards this goal, materials for photocatalytic CO2 reduction reactions with selectivity towards such high-valued products are still in the early stages of development,” states the department

To this end, Professor Sebastian C. Peter, a material scientist from JNCASR, has recently conducted a groundbreaking investigation.

He undertook two interconnected studies with industry-academia collaboration. The findings of these studies were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS) and Angewandte Chemie International Edition, respectively.

“The JACS study led to the development of a novel and highly efficient photocatalyst with an unprecedented selectivity of 99% toward C2H4, a typically high-value product obtained from CO2. Moreover, the Angewandte study reports the facile synthesis of the wurtzite phase of CuGaS2, a photocatalyst for CO2 reduction reaction, by colloidal synthesis,” the department said.

The composite catalyst developed in the JACS study demonstrates the highest formation rate in photocatalysis. The research also introduces a template-free and cost-effective synthetic strategy for its development.

Country’s first plant

This recent breakthrough by JNCASR scientists has facilitated the development of the country’s first plant that can convert CO2 into methanol.

“This involves connecting directly to flue streams from a power generation plant in the state of Telangana. By capturing CO2 from polluted air emissions and producing onsite hydrogen, they aim to convert one ton of CO2 per day into methanol,” the department added.

“The catalysts we have developed have not merely remained confined to the laboratory. In fact, we have successfully scaled up our innovations, with a dedicated building within the other JNCASR campus serving as the epicentre for large-scale demonstrations,” Prof. Sebastian said.

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