Low-cost high-efficiency system for solar-driven conversion of CO 2 to hydrocarbons

Abstract : Conversion of carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons using solar energy is an attractive strategy for storing such a renewable source of energy into the form of chemical energy (a fuel). This can be achieved in a system coupling a photovoltaic (PV) cell to an electrochemical cell (EC) for CO2 reduction. To be beneficial and applicable, such a system should use low-cost and easily processable photovoltaic cells and display minimal energy losses associated with the catalysts at the anode and cathode and with the electrolyzer device. In this work, we have considered all of these parameters altogether to set up a reference PV–EC system for CO2 reduction to hydrocarbons. By using the same original and efficient Cu-based catalysts at both electrodes of the electrolyzer, and by minimizing all possible energy losses associated with the electrolyzer device, we have achieved CO2 reduction to ethylene and ethane with a 21% energy efficiency. Coupled with a state-of-the-art, low-cost perovskite photovoltaic minimodule, this system reaches a 2.3% solar-to-hydrocarbon efficiency, setting a benchmark for an inexpensive all–earth-abundant PV–EC system.
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Tran Ngoc Huan, Daniel Alves Dalla Corte, Sarah Lamaison, Dilan Karapinar, Lukas Lutz, et al.. Low-cost high-efficiency system for solar-driven conversion of CO 2 to hydrocarbons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2019, 116 (20), pp.201815412. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1815412116⟩. ⟨hal-02148700⟩

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