Collaborators: Dr Ziyang Huo, QLD Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, Griffith University and Professor Yawen Zhang, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University

Boosted by rapid economic development and a growing world population, global energy demand is expected to double by 2050 and to triple by 2100 and is one of the most pressing challenges facing society today. Professor Yawen Zhang and Dr Ziyang Huo are looking to find ways to help satisfy growing energy demand by developing a new catalyst to convert carbon dioxide into useful liquid fuels through hydrogenation and creating a new greener energy source.

During the project the researchers conducted systemic experiments on carbon conversion and found that when cobalt nanoparticles were deposited on certain oxide surface, it shows obvious product selectivity. More long chain alkanes could be obtained by using this metal and metal oxides interface. This finding could create a new strategy to harvest energy which will be further researched in Dr Huo’s Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) that he was awarded late last year.

His DECRA project will also look at ways to return carbon dioxide (CO2) to a useful state. By utilising sunlight as a promising and green energy input, the conversion of CO2 into liquid fuel would positively impact the global carbon balance. This project aims to prepare abundant, non-toxic and sufficiently active photoelectrodes with one dimensional nanostructure, then develop appropriate and robust photoelectrochemical devices to convert CO2 into liquid fuels. This project aims to help reduce the atmospheric CO2 concentrations and explore a new energy source.