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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 17 (2012) pp 166-171
DOI 10.1007/s00897122438

Photocatalytic Conversion of Carbon Dioxide to Organic Compounds Using A Green Photocatalyst: An Undergraduate Research Experiment

Wei-Yin Chen,*,† Guang Shi, Anna K. Hailey,§ Evaline S.T. Tsai,§ Nathan I. Hammer,** and Zhongbiao Wu††

†Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677;, ‡Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, MS50A4034, 1 Cyclotron Road, Berkeley, CA 94720, §Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, **Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677 ††Department of Environmental Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China 310058
Received February 15, 2012. Accepted August 10, 2012.

Published: 9 September 2012

Abstract. This photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide laboratory experiment is designed for an advanced undergraduate chemistry or chemical engineering majors laboratory course. It introduces the science of emerging sustainable energy technologies through hands-on experimentation. By photo-irradiating a glass flask containing water, catalyst and carbon dioxide, students explore the potential of new carbon-doping procedures in carbon dioxide reduction to organics. Catalysts included in the present study include anatase titanium dioxide, titanium dioxide with copper, carbon-doped titanium dioxide, carbon-doped titanium dioxide with copper, titanium oxysulfate-based titanium dioxide with copper, and titanium oxysulfate-based titanium dioxide with copper. Carbon doping shifts the semiconductor’s light adsorption into the visible light region, where solar radiation has the highest intensity. With this sufficiently simple, hands-on experiment, the students investigate the extent of photocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to organic compounds, impact of carbon-doping techniques for reducing the band gap of titanium dioxide, role of copper, and efficiency of titanium dioxide with copper based titanium dioxide.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical and inorganic chemistry; chemical engineering; photocatalysis; green chemistry; doping; carbon dioxide reduction; titanium dioxide

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

Article in PDF format (222 KB) HTML format updated 9/14/2012

Supporting Materials:

One supporting files is available. This document includes Information for the students and the instructor (772 KB).

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