Discovering electrocatalysts to convert carbon dioxide to methane

Image: Shivam Chaturvedi, Piyush Sharma and Swastik Paul

The increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere and the associated global warming pose a considerable challenge to humans. The conversion of CO2 to useful chemicals and fuels via the use of renewable electricity is a potential solution to mitigate this problem.

Recently, the research group of Ananth Govind Rajan, Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, IISc, used quantum-mechanical modelling of chemical reaction mechanisms to discover promising new dopants for 2D catalyst materials to enable CO2 conversion to methane, the major constituent of natural gas, which can be used as fuel. An additional interest in this reaction is that the atmosphere of the planet Mars is rich in CO2 and a solar-powered route to obtain methane can be used to power deep space missions.

In this work, published in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, the combined use of chemical intuition and atomic-scale simulations led to the identification of aluminium as a superior dopant for molybdenum disulfide, a 2D catalyst material, to promote the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to methane.

This work involved project associates Dhruv Lal and Tanmay Konnur, Anand Mohan Verma (former CV Raman postdoc), and Shaneeth M, Scientist at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, ISRO. The work led to Ananth Govind Rajan becoming featured as an Influential Researcher by Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research, a journal of the American Chemical Society.

Image reproduced with permission from American Chemical Society (Lal D et al., Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2023)

Cover page of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research (IECR) featuring Ananth Govind Rajan as part of the 2023 Class of Influential Researchers

Lal D, Konnur T, Verma AM, Shaneeth M, Govind Rajan A, Unraveling Low Overpotential Pathways for Electrochemical CO2 Reduction to CH4 on Pure and Doped MoS2 Edges, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. (2023).

Savage PE, Announcing the 2023 Class of Influential Researchers – Asia and Pacific, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. (2023)