Asea Brown Boveri Ltd. (ABB) Award 2019 – Marcel Schreier
Solar-driven reduction of CO2: From homogeneous to heterogeneous catalytic systems
EPFL thesis n°7754 (2017)
Thesis directors: Prof. M. Graetzel, Prof. K. Sivula
"For his ground breaking doctoral research on the photoelectrochemical fixation of carbon dioxide."
The rapidly increasing level of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and its damaging impact on the global climate system raise doubts about the sustainability of the fossil fuel based energy system. However, by using the tools of chemistry we can turn CO2 into a resource by transforming it back into useful fuels and chemicals. To make this vision a reality, we have developed electrochemical methods and catalyst materials to drive this transformation using sunlight, the most abundant renewable energy source on earth. As part of this effort, we have repeatedly broken the record efficiency for transforming CO2 to CO using sunlight, and replaced expensive catalyst materials such as gold with widely abundant copper and tin. This research has been complemented by studies of the molecular mechanisms that control the transformation of CO2 and the charge transfer from light-absorbing materials to catalysts molecules.