CO2 electrolyzer: A new direction in carbon negative technology

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About This Project

A carbon-negative strategy is the need of the hour to reduce atmospheric CO2 without compromising the manufacturing of essential chemicals. Here, we are proposing to develop a renewable energy-operated CO2 electrolyzer that will capture and consequently convert CO2 to carbon monoxide (CO). CO is a widely used carbon feedstock, which is converted into several high-value chemicals in industry. Hence, an energy-efficient CO2 electrolyzer can aid our quest for a carbon-negative paradigm.

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What is the context of this research?

CO2 is a key player in the atmosphere, and it critically regulates the planet's environment via photosynthesis. Nevertheless, the augmentation of atmospheric CO2 levels resulting from anthropogenic activities, including the combustion of fossil fuels, deforestation, and industrial operations, have adverse consequences for both the environment and human beings, such as climate change and health effects. In order to address the adverse impacts of carbon dioxide, there is a worldwide endeavour to decrease greenhouse gas emissions via various initiatives such as the Paris Agreement, the adoption of cleaner energy sources, and the implementation of enhanced conservation and sustainability measures.

What is the significance of this project?

Leading technologies are being searched for combating the imminent CO2 threat. Implementing carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a prime process for limiting CO2 emissions. Carbon capture via amines, hydrates, and geological storage are all in use; however, conversion of CO2 combined with renewable energy may be a key step towards achieving carbon neutrality. Carbon capture and conversion has emerged as a viable technology that can effectively recycle carbon resources. The CO2RR's target product, CO, is a prominent CO2 reduction product since it takes little energy in terms of electrons and may be utilized as a feedstock for a variety of products in various sectors, including the fuel and chemical industries, the metal industry, and biotechnology.

What are the goals of the project?

CO2-electrolyzer is a leading tool for carbon capture and utilization, which provides a solution to reduce CO2 to CO. CO is a reactive feedstock for a wide number of value-added products in a variety of industries. Integrating a CO2-electrolyzer into a carbon capture system can be an optimal approach to utilize the sequestered CO2. Here, a bioengineered metalloenzyme mimic will drive an electrolyzer that can continuously convert CO2 to different useful products with a minimal carbon footprint. Large-scale CO2 to CO conversion can be accomplished by designing an electrolyzer with a high current density, low cell voltage, high Faradaic efficiency, and high conversion rate. Therefore, designing and optimization of these parameters are critical for the electrolyser’s operation.


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The consumables are essential for developing the basic ingredients of the electrolyzer (such as the template, catalyst, current collector, gas diffusion layer, etc.). The electrolyzer prototype will be manufactured with the fabrication cost. The human resources funding will be used to engage the key researchers in the project. The overhead cost covers the basic amenities and facilities provided by the institute.

Project Timeline

This project will be completed in 1 year time. The major milestones are divided into two distinct segments of 6-months.

Jun 30, 2024

Developing a CO2 electrolyzer prototype using a bioengineered catalyst (TRL 2-3)

Dec 31, 2024

Optimizing the CO2 electrolyzer operating conditions  (TRL 3)

Dec 31, 2024

Testing the CO2 electrolyzer prototype under practical conditions (TRL 3-4)

Meet the Team

Arnab Dutta
Arnab Dutta
Associate Professor


IIT Bombay
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Team Bio

The CO2-electrolyzer team consists of PhD student Vaibhav Trivedi, postdoc Yashwant Pratap Kharwar, research scientist Piyali Majumder, and two faculty members Arnab Dutta and Vikram Vishal from IIT Bombay. Arnab is an expert in catalyst designing for CO2 capture and electrolysis, and Vikram is an expert in CO2 capture and storage. Yashwant is a chemical engineer, Piyali is a molecular biologist, and she will lead the biomimetic catalyst design.

Arnab Dutta

Arnab Dutta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry at IIT Bombay. Additionally, he is the Co-Convenor of the National Centre of Excellence of Carbon Capture and Utilization, IIT Bombay. His interest lies in the development of synthetic catalysts for sustainable renewable energy applications and CO2 mitigation.
Website: https://www.arnabdutta-bioinor...

Additional Information

During the development of our electrocatalytic assembly, one of the important factors is the catalyst, which will drive the CO2 reduction. Here, we are planning to design a biomimetic catalyst by incorporating the essential features of a natural metalloenzyme. For this purpose, we will use a protein scaffold that features the minimal but essential fragment necessary for the catalytic activity. During this design, we will modify the protein scaffold with mutations at strategic positions of the protein structure. Hence, protein engineering will be a vital tool in the proposed research.

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