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Diamond and Metal Photo-Electrocatalysts for Hydrogen Evolution and Carbon Dioxide Reduction

Project description

Creating fuel and valuable chemicals from diamond

Mitigating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are key challenges of the 21st century. At the core of these challenges is to fulfil the increasing energy demands and use energy efficiently while simultaneously reducing dependence on fossil fuels. EU’s Horizon 2020 programme plays an important role in facilitating the transition to renewable energy sources. The EU-funded DIMPEL CAT project will use diamond catalysts to imitate natural photosynthesis and transform CO2 into fuel and valuable chemicals. So far, similar attempts have required the use of scarce and expensive materials such as platinum. Using synthetic diamond is a major breakthrough in the field: diamond emits electrons with high reduction potential, meaning that they can reduce highly inert molecules such as CO2.


Climate change, increased energy demand, and greenhouse gases have major impacts on the environment. Following the recent International Climate Change conference in Paris, many nations have initiated measures to fulfill their agreements to reduce carbon emissions and promote renewable energy. In addition, EU Horizon 2020 has the major priority to invest funds in development of secure, clean and efficient energy methods. Currently, the most efficient way to produce the clean energy source H2 requires platinum. However, this metal is highly scarce and expensive. Carbon Dioxide conversion to synthetic fuels such as CO, formaldehyde is likewise mainly performed by expensive metals, and at high temperatures which are unsustainable. Therefore, there is a strong incentive to develop alternative, sustainable catalysts based on cheap, earth-abundant materials.
In this project, we are going to use the diamonds as nano materials which can release electrons into solution upon illumination; the electrons can be used by the transition metal complexes for the production of hydrogen and to convert CO2 into valuable chemicals such as CO, formic acid. The inspiration comes here from the natures photosynthesis where the sunlight is harvested by plants to fix CO2 to valuable chemicals such as carbohydrates. Diamond is unique in its ability to produce solvated electrons directly into solution upon irradiation; these electrons are highly reducing and have capacity to activate CO2. This projects aims to improve the selectivity and efficiency of the reduction process by coupling the reducing electrons from diamond with the most effective transition metal catalysts from literature. Furthermore, this project will provide a new set of skills required for becoming an independent researcher in the highly important sustainable energy field.


Net EU contribution
€ 224 933,76
WC1E 6BT London
United Kingdom

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London Inner London — West Camden and City of London
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 224 933,76