Highly Dense Cu Nanowires for Low-overpotential CO2 Reduction

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Unmet Need:  CO2 emissions from power generation is one of the primary sources of global warming, and the electrochemical reduction of these emissions is a promising solution for this problem.  However, there are few if any catalysts with sufficient activity and selectivity to make this technology commercially feasible.
Technical Overview:  Our new catalysts are made using a two-step synthesis of highly dense Cu nanowires as advanced electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. CuO nanowires were first grown by oxidation of Cu mesh in air and then reduced by either annealing in the presence of hydrogen or applying a cathodic electrochemical potential to produce Cu nanowires. The two reduction methods generated Cu nanowires with similar dimensions but distinct surface structures, which have provided an ideal platform for comparative studies of the effect of surface structure on the electrocatalytic properties. In particular, the Cu nanowires generated by electrochemical reduction were highly active and selective for CO2 reduction, requiring an overpotential of only 0.3 V to reach 1 mA/cm2 electrode current density and achieving Faradaic efficiency toward CO as high as ∼60%.
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Seth Zonies
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