Office of Undergraduate Research

Photocatalytic Conversion of CO2 to Fuels by Novel Nanocomposite Photocatalysts

The project objective is to fabricate novel nanostructured photocatalysts so that we can efficiently use sunlight to photochemically convert CO2, a greenhouse gas, to useful fuels such as methane and methanol. This way of recycling CO2 can not only mitigate global warming but also produce renewable energy. The challenges of this technology are to increase the CO2 conversion rate and to enhance the catalytic activity under visible light. These will be accomplished by modifying the nanostructure and composition of the photocatalyts. Methodology: 1) to synthesize and characterize novel TiO2-based nanomaterials as photocatalyts; 2) to design and build a photoreactor; 3) to measure the CO2 conversion products and production efficiency; 4) to understand the mechanism and to improve the CO2 conversion efficiency.

Tasks and responsibilities:

The student will be responsible for synthesizing one type of nanomaterials using hydrothermal method, designing and building a photoreactor, conducting photocatalysis experiments, and recording and analyzing experimental data. The student will also report in weekly group meetings and present his research in symposia or conferences. This student has been working in my lab for three continuous semesters (fall 2009  summer 2010). With support for two more semesters, the student will be able to publish one journal article as the primary author.