100% Efficient Electrochemical Conversion of Carbon Dioxide

Researchers from the University of Twente, in collaboration with Shell, developed a new mechanism that makes the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide, which is an essential feedstock in the production of chemicals

Within this project under the umbrella of the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC), the researchers published their findings in the scientific journal ACS Energy Letters. Their publication was also selected for the cover images of the same journal. UT PhD student and lead author Sobhan Neyrizi: “With the novel molecules designed in our research, we could innovate a new pathway for COconversion.”

The emission of carbon dioxide is considered one of the major causes of global warming. One possible solution is the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide into more useful molecules such as carbon monoxide, formic acid and hydrocarbons. Which are important intermediates in fuel and chemical production. However, the energy demand of the reaction is still too high.

Sobhan Neyrizi – Turning carbon dioxide into fuel. © Eye-openers.nl

New Pathway

The new molecules that Sobhan Neyrizi and his fellow researchers have developed can assist the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide.

“Our molecules act as co-catalysts that reduce the energy demands of the reaction to a great extend”, says Neyrizi. The researchers argue they can use these molecules to innovate a new pathway for the reaction. “We could also propose design principles for the development of more efficient molecules in the future.”

100% Efficiency

In electrochemistry, electrons are used as a cheap energy source. But transferring electrons to carbon dioxide – which is the key step needed for the conversion – demands too much energy. The energy needed can be drastically reduced by simultaneously transferring protons and electrons to carbon dioxide molecules. The designed co-catalysts make this simultaneous transfer possible on a surface of gold.

“We could reach 100% efficiency for the conversion, which means that all electrons we put into the reaction get used”, explains Neyrizi.

More information

Sobhan Neyrizi is a PhD student in the Photocatalytic Synthesis Group (PCSFaculty of S&T). This project is part of and funded by the Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC). His article, entitled ‘What it Takes for Imidazlium Cations to Promote Electrochemical Reduction of CO2 has been published in ACS Energy Letters and can be read online.

DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.2c01372


University of Twente, press release, 2022-11-08.


Advanced Research Center Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC CBBC)
Shell Group
University of Twente (NL)