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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Hybrid bioinorganic approach to solar-to-chemical conversion.

  • Author(s): Nichols, Eva M
  • Gallagher, Joseph J
  • Liu, Chong
  • Su, Yude
  • Resasco, Joaquin
  • Yu, Yi
  • Sun, Yujie
  • Yang, Peidong
  • Chang, Michelle CY
  • Chang, Christopher J
  • et al.

Natural photosynthesis harnesses solar energy to convert CO2 and water to value-added chemical products for sustaining life. We present a hybrid bioinorganic approach to solar-to-chemical conversion in which sustainable electrical and/or solar input drives production of hydrogen from water splitting using biocompatible inorganic catalysts. The hydrogen is then used by living cells as a source of reducing equivalents for conversion of CO2 to the value-added chemical product methane. Using platinum or an earth-abundant substitute, α-NiS, as biocompatible hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) electrocatalysts and Methanosarcina barkeri as a biocatalyst for CO2 fixation, we demonstrate robust and efficient electrochemical CO2 to CH4 conversion at up to 86% overall Faradaic efficiency for ≥ 7 d. Introduction of indium phosphide photocathodes and titanium dioxide photoanodes affords a fully solar-driven system for methane generation from water and CO2, establishing that compatible inorganic and biological components can synergistically couple light-harvesting and catalytic functions for solar-to-chemical conversion.

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