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March 2016

Porous Framework Electrocatalysts Are Key to Carbon Dioxide Conversion

The burning of fossil fuels and the consequent rising levels of atmospheric CO­2 has led to a number of negative environmental consequences, including global warming and ocean acidification. Converting CO2 to fuels or chemical feedstock, ideally through the use of renewable energy, can simultaneously reduce atmospheric CO2 and decrease fossil fuel consumption. The principal difficulty in this process is that earth-abundant catalysts that can perform this reaction with high efficiency and selectivity are not readily available. 

Recently, researchers have made headway in this direction by utilizing super porous molecular structures—metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and covalent-organic frameworks (COFs)—as a new class of CO2 reduction catalysts. This work, which took advantage of two user facilities at Berkeley Lab, ALS and the Molecular Foundry, gives rise to an entirely new basis in which to develop electrocatalysts for converting captured carbon dioxide into valuable chemical products such as fuels, pharmaceuticals, and plastics.

Read the full press release.