Events & Seminars > Event Details


4:00 pm
Room 304, Chemistry Building

Recycling CO2


Professor Matt Kanan
Stanford University

Hosted by: Professor Dean Harman


Controlling the atmospheric CO2 concentration may ultimately require recycling CO2 into liquid fuels and commodity chemicals using renewable energy as the power source. Arguably the greatest challenge for this vision is to develop efficient catalysts that reduce CO2 and its derivatives to a fuel of choice. This talk will describe our development of “oxide-derived” nanocrystalline electrocatalysts. These materials are prepared by reducing metal oxide precursors to form continuous networks of interconnected metal nanocrystals with a high density of grain boundaries. The process of metal oxide reduction kinetically traps metastable structures with unique catalytic properties. We have developed oxide-derived nanocrystalline catalysts that reduce CO2 either to CO and operate at diffusion-limited current densities at potentials very close to the thermodynamic minimum. We have also developed oxide-derived catalysts that selectively reduce CO to ethanol and acetate. The catalysts all operate in water at ambient temperature and pressure and are remarkably robust. The structural origins of the catalytic activity will be discussed as well as the prospects of preparing nanocrystalline catalysts by alternative syntheses. Oxide-derived nanocrystalline materials enable electrochemical conversions that could make CO2 a valuable feedstock for synthetic liquid fuel.


Brief Bio:

Matt Kanan joined the faculty in the Department of Chemistry at Stanford as an Assistant Professor in 2009. His research addresses challenges in catalysis that span both solid-state and molecular systems. His energy research is focused on developing catalysts that will enable “CO2 recycling”—the use of renewable energy to convert CO2 back into liquid fuels and commodity chemicals. To this end, his group has developed a new class of heterogeneous catalysts that convert CO2 into higher alcohols and carboxylic acids using electrical power inputs. His group has also pioneered the use of electrostatic interactions to control the selectivity of synthetic catalysts for fine chemical synthesis. Prior to Stanford, Matt was an NIH Postdoctoral Researcher in inorganic chemistry at MIT and did his Ph.D. research in organic chemistry at Harvard.