A University of Michigan and University of Oxford collaboration recently earned front page attention in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Energy & Environmental Science by revealing the potential for using sunlight to efficiently convert the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), into storable fuels. Led by U-M biological chemist and Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute faculty fellow Stephen Ragsdale, U-M graduate student Elizabeth Pierce and Oxford Professor Fraser Armstrong, the collaboration promises to extend the use of solar energy beyond generation of electricity to the creation of storable solar fuels. The team has developed a hybrid device that contains a metal oxide nanoparticle that interacts with the enzyme carbon monoxide dehydrogenase and reacts to visible light using a ruthenium bipyridyl photosensitizer. This device functions as a highly active and reversible catalyst that can use sunlight to photo-reduce the relatively inert CO2 to methanol for use in fuel cells and carbon monoxide for conversion into liquid fuels.
Download a PDF of the researchers’ Energy & Environmental Science report.
Read more on the team’s work, including its earlier coverage in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.