New Discovery to Make Green Energy Much More Efficient

New Discovery to Make Green Energy Much More Efficient

Scientists at the National Research University of Electronic Technology "MIET" (Moscow, Russia), together with colleagues from Lodz University of Technology (Lodz, Poland), have developed a material that allows increasing the production efficiency of promising methanol fuel by more than 20 times.

The authors of the study, published in Topics in Catalysis magazine, believe that converting carbon dioxide into fuel, for example, methanol, is an effective way to reduce its toxic emissions into the atmosphere. In their opinion, the optimal solution is using renewable energy to do this.

Today, to synthesize methanol from CO2, the photocatalytic method is mainly used, where the reaction proceeds due to light energy. However, titanium oxide, used as a photocatalyst, reacts only to ultraviolet light, which makes up only 5% of sunlight.

To fully utilize solar energy, scientists have modified the surface of titanium oxide with metal nanoparticles. It turned out that the combination of titanium oxide with some metals allows the catalyst to capture the energy of the visible part of the spectrum, covering most of the sunlight.

“We have shown that modifying TiO2 surface with metal particles increases the methanol formation rate by 22 times. Platinum and nickel turned out to be the most active particles. Developing this technology will make it possible to synthesize organic substances without using sophisticated equipment required in the classical synthesis method”, Sergei Dubkov, a senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Materials and Technologies at "MIET", said.

According to the researcher, to manufacture a modified photocatalyst, either metal vacuum evaporation is used, followed by putting them on titanium oxide, or annealing oxide powder impregnated with metal salts.

To study the structure of the obtained materials, X-ray diffraction analysis and scanning electron microscopy were used. The study was conducted as part of the Russian Science Foundation grant No. 19-000595, aimed at developing the principles of artificial photosynthesis in the visible region of the spectrum.

In the future, the team of scientists wants to develop a hybrid photocatalytic system adapted to work in the visible spectrum and capable of solving problems such as synthesizing organic fuel and purifying water from organic contaminants, as well as producing hydrogen or oxygen by water decomposition.

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