Converting CO2 via Thermocatalysis and Electrocatalysis

Meeting Program — October 2017

Jingguang Chen
Jing­guang Chen
Thay­er Lind­s­ley Pro­fes­sor of Chem­i­cal Engi­neer­ing
Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty


Abstract — Ris­ing atmos­pher­ic con­cen­tra­tion of CO2 is fore­cast­ed to have poten­tial­ly dis­as­trous effects on the envi­ro­ment from its role in glob­al warm­ing and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion. Con­vert­ing CO2 into valu­able chem­i­cals and fuels is one of the most prac­ti­cal routes for reduc­ing CO2 emis­sions while fos­sil fuels con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate the ener­gy sec­tor. The cat­alyt­ic reduc­tion of CO2 by H2 can lead to the for­ma­tion of three types of prod­ucts: CO through the reverse water-gas shift (RWGS) reac­tion, methanol via selec­tive hydro­gena­tion, and methane by the metha­na­tion path­way. In the cur­rent talk we will first describe our efforts in con­trol­ling the cat­alyt­ic selec­tiv­i­ty for the three prod­ucts using a com­bi­na­tion of DFT cal­cu­la­tions and sur­face sci­ence stud­ies over sin­gle crys­tal sur­faces, cat­alyt­ic eval­u­a­tion of sup­port­ed cat­a­lysts, and in-situ char­ac­ter­i­za­tion under reac­tion con­di­tions. Next, we will dis­cuss our efforts in con­vert­ing CO2 with­out using H2. This is moti­vat­ed by the fact that ~95% of H2 is gen­er­at­ed from hydro­car­bon-based feed­stocks, pro­duc­ing CO2 as a byprod­uct. We will present two approach­es to avoid using H2 for CO2 con­ver­sion. The first approach involves the uti­liza­tion of light alka­nes, such as ethane, to direct­ly reduce CO2 via the dry reform­ing path­way to pro­duce syn­the­sis gas (C2H6 + 2CO2 → 4CO + 3H2) and the oxida­tive dehy­dro­gena­tion route to gen­er­ate eth­yl­ene (C2H6 + CO2 → C2H4 + CO + H2O). The sec­ond approach is the elec­trol­y­sis of CO2 to pro­duce syn­the­sis gas with con­trolled CO/H2 ratios. We will con­clude our pre­sen­ta­tion by pro­vid­ing a per­spec­tive on the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties in con­vert­ing CO2 via var­i­ous routes in ther­mo­catal­y­sis and elec­tro­catal­y­sis.

Biog­ra­phy — Jing­guang Chen is the Thay­er Lind­s­ley Pro­fes­sor of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, with a joint appoint­ment as a senior chemist at Brookhaven Nation­al Lab­o­ra­to­ry. He received his PhD degree from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burgh and then car­ried out his Hum­boldt post­doc­tor­al research in KFA-Julich in Ger­many. After spend­ing sev­er­al years as a staff sci­en­tist at Exxon Cor­po­rate Research, he start­ed his aca­d­e­m­ic career at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Delaware in 1998 and rose to the rank of the Claire LeClaire Pro­fes­sor of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing and the direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Cat­alyt­ic Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy. He moved to Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty in 2012. He is the co-author of 21 US patents and over 340 jour­nal pub­li­ca­tions with over 15,000 cita­tions. He is cur­rent­ly the pres­i­dent of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety (NACS) and an asso­ciate edi­tor of ACS Catal­y­sis. He received many catal­y­sis awards, includ­ing the 2015 George Olah award from ACS and the 2017 Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship from NACS.