With the depletion of the natural energy resources on Earth, there is an urgent need to find alternatives. Researches are going on for the same in the world, and we bring one of the researches done by Dr. Mohammed Rameez. Hecompleted his B.Tech- Electronics and Communication Engineering from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University and M.Tech- Nanotechnology from Pondicherry University. Presently, he is working as Academia Sinica postdoctoral research Fellow at the Institute of Chemistry, Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
- What is the topic of your research, and please give a brief explanation?
Ans: With the increased manufacturing activities, a large amount of CO2is being released into the environment, causing Earth–Carbon disparity, leading to global warming. Further, there is a rising demand for fine chemicals such as p-benzoquinone obtained from fossil fuel processing. However, these processes operate under high energy and high-pressure conditions generating more CO2. Therefore, decreasing CO2 production and transforming CO2 into valuable solar fuels seem to be an essential issue for future sustainable development. So, this scenario has given the researchers a challenging topic as to how to reduce the amount of CO2 and further convert it into valuable low-carbon fuels. Hence, my research topic is based on reducing carbon dioxide to other useful chemicals using electricity and catalysts. This process is known as electror eduction of CO2.
My research is developing an ideal resource-efficient solution based on catalysts i.e., artificial photosynthesis – mimicking how plants use sustainable sources of sunlight, CO2, and water to drive the production of energy-rich carbohydrates. As such, promising research efforts have been intensified in reducing CO2 to similar energy-rich fuels and chemical feed stocks through electro- catalytic routes. Recently, we report a novel g-C3N4/Cu2O-FeOheterogeneous nanocomposite catalyst for CO2 electrochemical reduction to CO, with a maximum Faradaic efficiency of 84.4% at a low onset over potential. This research was published in the topmost journal in the field of environmental engineering. This research was done in Academia Sinica, a premier research institute in Taiwan. A Ph.D. student Girma from Ethiopia, and I worked on it in Prof. Hung’s lab. I was also one of the corresponding authors.
- What is the motive/ aim of your research?
Ans: I aimed to integrate hetero structures containing oxides of non-noble metals, such as iron and copper, with g-C3N4, resulting in stable materials that could function as active electrochemical catalysts for CO2 reduction.
- What kind of challenges did you face?
Ans: Many doped and sensitized semiconductors have been used as photocatalysts for CO2 reduction for higher conversion efficiency. The selectivity of products not only depends on the catalysts’ compositions but also on the choice of reductant and the solvent. However, the practical applications of these catalysts for CO2 reduction are still limited by the low CO2 conversion efficiency. It is crucial to raise the photocatalytic conversion efficiency and long-term stability to make this process economically feasible. Here, our main challenge was to enhance the selectivity and efficiency of the process for the novel g-C3N4/Cu2O-FeO catalyst, which uses earth-abundant materials.
- How do you think your research would be beneficial to society or industry?
Ans. This research would help solve the prevalentissue of global warming befalling due to the rapid industrial developments across the globe. The conversion efficiency is currently too low to be practically helpful in the industry; this research would definitely help solve the existing low conversion efficiency. We are also confident that the proposed hybrid low-dimensional functional materials would help promote the conversion of the product yields to some extent and gain an in-depth understanding of the basic principle of CO2 reduction using the advanced spectroscopy/dynamics techniques available in our laboratory. Based on our results, we will be able to design better, cheaper, and inexpensive catalysts. Finally, we hope these catalysts can be used for a large-scale industrial fixation of carbon dioxide to beneficial chemicals. This can help us achieve two goals – 1) CO2 amount reduction and 2) valuable chemical productions without using fossil fuel. Ultimately, we will be able to attain the goal of sustainable development.
- Lastly, please give some tips to the budding scientists?
Ans. My advice to budding scientistsis that they should keep themselves updated with the recent literature and findings. Never lose hope as it takes time to obtain results. Always have plans B and C ready for the research and experiments.