Scientists achieve direct electrocatalytic reduction of CO2, raising hopes for smart carbon capture

2018-11-28 18:00 288

TOKYO, Nov. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Chemists at Tokyo Institute of Technology propose an innovative way to achieve carbon capture using a rhenium-based electrocatalytic system that is capable of reducing low-concentration CO2 (even 1%) with high selectivity and durability, which is a new potential technology to enable direct utilization of CO2 in exhaust gases from heavy industries.

Scientists are closer to finding effective ways to reduce CO2 levels -- a vital part of responding to climate change and energy efficiency challenges.

A study led by Osamu Ishitani of the Department of Chemistry, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) now demonstrates the advantages of applying electrocatalysis[1] to capture low-concentration CO2.

In their study published in Chemical Science, Ishitani and colleagues including Hiromu Kumagai and Tetsuya Nishikawa drew on decades of work on honing the capabilities of a rhenium-based catalyst, and demonstrated its ability to reduce low-concentration CO2 in the presence of a chemical called triethanolamine (TEOA).

Compared to many previous studies that have focused on reducing pure CO2, few have explored how to improve direct capture of low-concentration CO2 -- a topic that warrants further investigation, considering that plants harness low concentrations of CO2 (about 400 ppm, that is 0.04% of the atmosphere) and exhaust gases from heavy industries typically contain low levels of CO2 (around 3-13%).

By avoiding the need for additional energy-consuming condensation processes, their strategy, if scaled up, could provide a more viable, environmentally friendly solution to CO2 capture in many settings.

In a series of experiments to assess electrocatalytic activity, the researchers found that at a CO2 concentration of 1%, the rhenium-based catalyst showed very high selectivity (94%) towards carbon monoxide (CO) formation.

A likely reason behind the high performance, the researchers say, is the efficient insertion of CO2 into the rhenium–oxygen bond.

The researchers aim to continue systematically investigating promising strategies to help reduce real-world CO2 levels.

The present study was supported by a CREST (Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology) program on Molecular Technology backed by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

The paper has been selected as part of the 2018 ChemSci Pick of the Week Collection and a news story are posted on News & events of Royal Society of Chemistry.

Technical term

[1] Electrocatalysis: A process that harnesses electrochemical reactions to accelerate a particular reaction of interest.


Hiromu Kumagai, Tetsuya Nishikawa, Hiroki Koizumi, Taiki Yatsu, Go Sahara, Yasuomi Yamazaki†, Yusuke Tamaki and Osamu Ishitani*, Electrocatalytic Reduction of Low Concentration CO2. Chemical Science (2018), DOI: 10.1039/C8SC04124E
Department of Chemistry, School of Science, Tokyo Institute of Technology
† Present address: Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Materials and Life Science, Seikei University
* Corresponding author's email:

Related links

Osamu Ishitani - Seeking photocatalysts for chemical energy

Ishitani-Maeda Laboratory

Reducing CO2 with common elements and sunlight

About Tokyo Institute of Technology

Tokyo Tech stands at the forefront of research and higher education as the leading university for science and technology in Japan. Tokyo Tech researchers excel in fields ranging from materials science to biology, computer science, and physics. Founded in 1881, Tokyo Tech hosts over 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students per year, who develop into scientific leaders and some of the most sought-after engineers in industry. Embodying the Japanese philosophy of "monotsukuri," meaning "technical ingenuity and innovation," the Tokyo Tech community strives to contribute to society through high-impact research.

Cision View original content:

Source: Tokyo Institute of Technology