Photocatalytic and Electrocatalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide in Pressurized Systems

The depletion of carbon-based fossil fuels and the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration will force an inevitable change in the future global energy landscape. CO2 reduction presents the advantages of decreasing its atmospheric concentration and storing energy in chemical form in CO2 reduction products. With a predicted conversion to renewable energy such as solar or wind energy, energy storage will become a key process in the near future for buffering the fluctuating energy production. The objective of the present work was to study the efficiency towards CO2 reduction of different molecular catalysts. In particular, conducting experiments in high-pressure and supercritical conditions and observing the effect of CO2 pressure or concentration on the efficiency and selectivity of the reaction. As supercritical CO2 (scCO2) has poor solubilisation capabilities, experiments were conducted in biphasic systems or with addition of an organic co-solvent. To drive the reduction reaction of CO2, a catalyst is needed to overcome the kinetic limitations of the reaction, but an energy input is also necessary. Three different forms for this energy input were used in this work. In a first time a sacrificial product, decamethylferrocene (DMFc), was used to transfer electrons to CO2 in biphasic water/scCO2 systems. Complete oxidation of the DMFc was observed in presence of anion capable of transporting protons from water to the DMFc present in the supercritical phase. A photosensitization cycle was used to supply a water soluble catalyst, NI(II)Cyclam, in electron at the required potential to drive the reduction of CO2 into carbon monoxide in water/scCO2 system. The creation of the interface in the system appeared highly favourable to the efficiency of the catalyst. A second catalyst, a ruthenium polypyridyl carbonyl complex, was used for the photocatalytic reduction of CO2. Pressure had an important impact on the production of one of the two reduction product, carbon monoxide, while the production of formate was unaffected by CO2 pressure. As limitations in productivity in photocatalytic experiments were coming principally from the photosensitizer cycle or the sacrificial electron donor, photosensitizer was replaced by an electrode to provide the catalyst in electrons. Voltammetry in CO2-expanded liquids was described and determination of important parameters such as catalyst concentration and diffusion coefficient as a function of pressure was performed. Electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 by ruthenium and rhenium polypyridyl carbonyl complexes was studied in CO2-expanded liquids. The catalytic mechanisms were observed to be highly influenced by CO2 concentration.

Girault, Hubert
Lausanne, EPFL
Other identifiers:
urn: urn:nbn:ch:bel-epfl-thesis6985-3

 Record created 2016-04-06, last modified 2019-10-13

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