Reutilizing carbon dioxide to produce clean burning fuels

Carbon dioxide

David Go has always seen himself as something of a black sheep when it comes to his scientific research approach, and his recent work in developing clean alternative fuels from carbon dioxide is no exception.

In 2015, Go and his research team at the University of Notre Dame were awarded a $50,000 grant to purse innovative electrochemical research in green energy technology through the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship. With a goal of aiding scientists in advancing alternative energies, the fellowship aims to empower young researchers in creating next-generation vehicles capable of utilizing alternative fuels that can lead to climate change action in transportation.

The road less traveled

While advancing research in electric vehicles and fuel cells tend to be the top research areas in sustainable transportation, Go and his team is opting to go down the road less traveled through a new approach to green chemistry: plasma electrochemistry.

(MORE: Read Go’s Meeting Abstract on this topic, entitled “Electrochemical Reduction of CO2(aq) By Solvated Electrons at a Plasma-Liquid Interface.”)

“Our approach to electrochemistry is completely a-typical,” Go, associate professor at the University of Notre Dame, says. “We use a technique called plasma electrochemistry with the aim of processing carbon dioxide – a pollutant – back into more useful products, such as clean-burning fuels.”


Member Spotlight – Jiaxing Huang

ECS member Jiaxing Huang used freshman-level chemistry to solve the solubility mystery of graphene oxide films.Image: Northwestern University

ECS member Jiaxing Huang used freshman-level chemistry to solve the solubility mystery of graphene oxide films.
Image: Northwestern University

Sometimes science can be extremely complex and commanded by technical expertise. But there are moments when one has to go back to his roots to find a more simple answer for a complex issue. That is what ECS member Jiaxing Huang – along with a team of Northwestern University researchers – has done in order to solve the mystery that surrounds the solubility of graphene oxide films.

For years, one question has puzzled the materials science community – why are graphene oxide (GO) films highly stable in water?

When submerged, GO sheets become negatively charged and repel, which should cause membrane to disintegrate. Though much to the confusion of the scientific community, when GO sheets are submerged they stabilize.