Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers say sunlight yields more efficient carbon dioxide to methanol model

Researchers from The University of Texas at Arlington are pioneering a new method for using carbon dioxide, or CO2, to make liquid methanol fuel by using copper oxide nanowires and sunlight.

The process is safer, simpler and less expensive than previous methods to convert the greenhouse gas associated with climate change to a useful product, said Krishnan Rajeshwar, interim associate vice president for research at UT Arlington and one of the authors of a paper recently published in the journal Chemical Communications.

Researchers began by coating the walls of copper oxide, CuO, nanorods with crystallites made from another form of copper oxide, Cu2O. In the lab, they submerged those rods in a water-based solution rich in CO2. Irradiating the combination with simulated sunlight created a photoelectrochemical reduction of the CO2 and that produced methanol.

In contrast, current methods require the use of a co-catalyst and must be conducted at high operating pressures and temperatures. Many also use toxic elements, such as cadmium, or rare elements, such as tellurium, Rajeshwar said.

“As long as we are using fossil fuels, we’ll have the question of what to do with the carbon dioxide,” said Rajeshwar, a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-founder of the Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology, CREST, at UT Arlington. “An attractive option would be to convert greenhouse gases to liquid fuel. That’s the value-added option.”

Co-authors on the recently published paper, “Efficient solar photoelectrosynthesis of methanol from carbon dioxide using hybrid CuO-Cu2O semiconductor nanorod arrays,” are Ghazaleh Ghadimkhani, Norma Tacconi, Wilaiwan Chanmanee and Csaba Janaky, all of the UT Arlington College of Science’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and CREST. Janaky also has a permanent appointment at the University of Szeged in Hungary.

Rajeshwar said he hopes that others will build on the research involving copper oxide nanotubes, CO2 and sunlight.

“Addressing tomorrow’s energy needs and finding ways to stem the harmful effect of greenhouse gases are areas where UT Arlington scientists can connect their work to real-world problems,” said Carolyn Cason, vice president for research at the University. “We hope solutions in the lab are only the beginning.”

In addition to the journal, the new work also was featured in a recent edition of Chemical and Engineering News. That piece noted that the experiments generated methanol with 95 percent electrochemical efficiency and avoided the excess energy input, also known as overpotential, of other methods.

Tacconi, a recently retired research associate professor at UT Arlington, said the two types of copper oxide were selected because both are photo active and they have complementary solar light absorption. “And what could be better in Texas than to use the sunlight for methanol generation from carbon dioxide?”

Other than fuel, methanol is used in a wide variety of chemical processes, including the manufacturing of plastics, adhesives and solvents as well as wastewater treatment. In the United States, there are 18 methanol production plants with a cumulative annual capacity of more than 2.6 billion gallons, according to the paper.

The carbon dioxide-to-fuel research is part of the innovation going on at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of more than 33,800 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.

The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

Traci Peterson | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: CO2 carbon dioxide chemical engineering chemical process crest greenhouse gas

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins
28.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Hirnforschung

nachricht A new look at thyroid diseases
28.10.2016 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

A new look at thyroid diseases

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Sweetening neurotransmitter receptors and other neuronal proteins

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>