The reduction of atmospheric CO2 is one of the most pressing challenges of our generation. Electrochemical reduction of industrial CO2 emissions is one critical goal as it would enable the direct production of readily-stored chemical fuels. Furthermore, the simple technology (mild temperature and aqueous electrolyte) would facilitate the coupling of electrochemical CO2 reduction with intermittent, renewable electricity sources. However, while there have been considerable advances in catalysts for the CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR), particularly with oxide-derived metals, existing materials are limited by high overpotentials and/or lack of selectivity. There is still a pressing need for catalysts that are highly-active, selective (particularly to C2 products), durable and economically-viable. Theoretical and experimental studies have identified transition metal (TM) carbides and nitrides as promising electrocatalysts for the CO2RR. However, the development of these materials has been limited by the lack of control over size and morphology in existing synthetic methods. This project will use a simple and scalable new 'nanocasting' method to produce TM carbide and nitride electrocatalysts with high activity and durability in the CO2RR.
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