A team of researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has pioneered a carbon dioxide (CO2) electroreduction system capable of transforming CO2 into ethylene, a key component in the production of polymers like polyethylene. This groundbreaking system offers a greener alternative to conventional ethylene production methods, which rely heavily on petrochemicals and contribute significantly to carbon emissions. This innovation is a crucial stride towards achieving carbon neutrality and reducing CO2 emissions.
The research team, led by Prof. Daniel LAU, Chair Professor of Nanomaterials and the Head of the Department of Applied Physics, employs the technique of electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. This method harnesses green electricity to convert CO2 into ethylene, offering a sustainable and stable approach to ethylene production. The team is dedicated to advancing this nascent technology and is working towards its mass production.
A standout feature of this research is the use of pure water as a metal-free anolyte, which replaces the conventional alkali-metal electrolyte. This innovative approach prevents the formation of carbonates and salt deposits, common problems in existing systems. The team's design, dubbed the APMA system, demonstrated its efficiency by producing ethylene with a high specificity of 50% and operating for over 1,000 hours at an industrial-level current of 10A. This significant improvement in lifespan over current systems makes it a promising candidate for large-scale industrial applications.
The research, recently featured in Nature Energy, was awarded a Gold Medal at the 48th International Exhibition of Inventions Geneva in Switzerland. The project was a joint effort with researchers from the University of Oxford, the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Centre of Taiwan, and Jiangsu University. The team is committed to further enhancing the system and is actively seeking partnerships with the industry to promote the green production of ethylene and other valuable chemicals.