Improving the Performance of Tin Electrocatalysts for CO2 Reduction

University of Pittsburgh


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Royal Society of Chemistry Journal names ChemE's John Keith one of materials chemistry's 'Rising Stars'

John A. Keith/Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry

The (110) surface of rutile tin oxide with tin atoms marked in purple and oxygen atoms marked in red. Labels denote the catalytically active sites that were considered in this study. H and CO2 adsorbates prefer binding to the Obr site.

PITTSBURGH (June 8, 2017) ... The Journal of Materials Chemistry A, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, included University of Pittsburgh researcher John Keith in its list of Emerging Investigators in 2017. The journal's themed issue highlighted "rising stars" of materials chemistry research recommended by experts in the field.

Dr. Keith, assistant professor and the inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering, was included in the journal for his work on "Computational investigation of CO2 electroreduction on tin oxide and predictions of Ti, V, Nb and Zr dopants for improved catalysis" (DOI: 10.1039/C7TA00405B).

The paper outlines the work of Dr. Keith and his team on improving the performance of tin electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. By using computational quantum chemistry modeling, the researchers studied reaction mechanisms on partially-reduced tin oxide surfaces and which elemental dopant additives can be added to make the CO2 conversion more energy efficient.

"Some of the dopants we modeled were already known to improve CO2 conversion energy efficiencies, and since our models could predict those cases we're confident the other dopants we predicted as improving efficiencies are very promising for future work," said Dr. Keith. "Our work demonstrates how we can modify tin-based oxide materials to make them better at converting CO2 into useful chemicals and fuels."

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