Photoelectrochemical CO2 Conversion for Fuel Production Powered by Monolithic Thin-Film Photovoltaic Devices

Photoelectrochemical CO2 Conversion for Fuel Production Powered by Monolithic Thin-Film Photovoltaic Devices
CO2 Conversion; Photoelectrochemical; Solar Fuel
Issue Date
2014 MRS Spring Meeting
Artificial photosynthesis has attracted much attention due to potential applications for energy-storing devices using solar energy. Mimicking photosynthesis in plants, photoelectrochemical (PEC) conversion system is suggested to use CO2 and H2O as feedstock chemicals to produce fuels by using solar energy in a sustainable manner. PEC CO2 reduction is a promising way to produce energy-dense carbon-based fuels such as carbon monoxide, formic acid, methanol, etc. However, PEC CO2 conversion system suffers from poor energy conversion efficiency and poor product selectivity, and its success has yet to be realized due to extremely high molecular stability and poor solubility of CO2 in aqueous solutions under ambient temperature and pressure. Herein, we demonstrate a PEC CO2 reduction platform in which an electrode composed of Au nanoparticles as reduction catalysts is powered by monolithic CuInGaS2 thin-film photovoltaic (PV) devices in acetonitrile-water mixture electrolyte. Specifically, Au nanoparticles were prepared by electrochemical synthetic method on solid substrates to increase CO2 reduction activities with selective production for carbon monoxide and formic acid, and CuInGaS2 thin-film PV cell was fabricated by low-cost solution-based preparation method whose high open-circuit voltage is desirable to overcome high overpotential of CO2 reduction reaction. Products were detected by ion chromatography and gas chromatography with TCD and FID, and faradaic efficiencies were evaluated by chronoamperometry. Furthermore, the product selectivity, the energy conversion efficiency, and the stability of the electrode were dramatically improved due to expanded actual surface area and catalytically active sites, compared to the results obtained from a bare Au electrode with the same surface area. This PV-powered solar-fuel device exhibited total faradaic efficiencies of CO2 to C1 chemicals (e.g. carbon monoxide and formic acid
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