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MEtal NAnoClusters for Electrocatalytic CO2 conversion

Project description

Efficient CO2 conversion using metal nanocluster catalysts

The electrochemical conversion of CO2 into fuels and valuable chemicals offers a promising solution to offset climate change. Converting CO2 into desired products is by no means easy: CO2 is a stable and relatively unreactive molecule. Despite considerable progress in the design of metallic nanoparticle catalysts that activate CO2, the high dispersity of conventional nanoparticles limits our fundamental understanding of how their structure affects their catalytic activity. The EU-funded MENACE-CO2 project will use atomically precise ligand-protected metal nanoclusters (MNCs) – a novel class of catalysts whose size lies between small molecules and nanoparticles. Unlike nanoparticles, MNCs are monodisperse particles with a defined composition that can be structurally characterised at the atomic level. Further understanding of a catalyst’s structure–activity relationship will boost the development of suitable catalysts for CO2 conversion.


Combatting the menace of global warming requires solutions to recycle carbon dioxide (CO2). Electrochemical (EC) CO2 reduction reactions (CO2RR) could potentially solve this problem by the storage of energy from renewable sources in the form of chemical energy in fuels or value-added chemicals in a sustainable manner. However, CO2 is a highly stable molecule and catalysts are needed to overcome its kinetically sluggish reduction. Despite the considerable progress in the design of metallic nanoparticle (NP) catalysts, the polydispersity of conventional NPs limits the fundamental understanding of structure-activity relationships, which remains the bottleneck for further catalyst development. To overcome this problem, I propose the utilization of a novel class of catalysts that lie in the transition regime between small molecules and NPs: Atomically precise ligand-protected metal nanoclusters (MNCs). Contrary to NPs, MNCs are monodisperse particles with a defined composition that can be structurally characterized at the atomic level. The aim of this project is to develop the full potential of MNCs for catalytic EC CO2RR i) by studying MNC structure-activity relationships, including size, protecting ligands and metal composition; ii) by tuning their catalytic performance, modifying MNCs with molecular metal-oxides to enhance CO2 adsorption; and iii) by their immobilization into nanocarbon materials, improving catalyst stability and performance due to the synergy between the support substrate and supported catalyst. The goal of the MENACE-CO2 project is to shed light into the precise correlation of structure with catalytic properties, enabling the rational optimization of this novel type of catalysts. Moreover, this project will open new perspectives by engineering nanocomposites, recognizing the roles of each component and how they synergize to achieve their properties to, ultimately, open new directions in CO2 conversion.


Net EU contribution
€ 172 932,48
Camino de vera sn edificio 3a
46022 Valencia

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Este Comunitat Valenciana Valencia/València
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Other funding
€ 0,00