Hunter Dulaney will present his thesis research “Robust Nickel Catalysts Supported by Biaryl-Bridged Pyridyl-N-Heterocyclic Carbenes for Carbon Dioxide Reduction to Value-Added Products” to the department.
Current energy consumption worldwide is at more than 18 terawatts-hours per year. Of this energy, roughly 82% is derived from fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil, and natural gas). Fossil fuel combustion releases greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, and other airborne pollutants, which contribute to climate change, ocean acidification, and human health concerns. Carbon dioxide also represents a readily accessible C1 feedstock for conversion to solar fuels and value-added chemicals. However, CO2 is relatively inert and very negative voltages or strong chemical reductants are required for its conversion. An additional challenge lies in achieving these reactions in water where aqueous protons are utilized selectively for CO2 reduction rather than hydrogen generation. Molecular nickel-based catalysts have shown promising results as earth-abundant systems for electro- and photocatalytic CO2 reduction that hold an economic advantage over precious metal catalysts employing ruthenium, iridium, and rhenium. Design strategies and representative nickel catalysts will be discussed that focus on the activity, stability, and tunability of molecular systems for this critical half-reaction of artificial photosynthesis. On the backdrop of these examples, my research involves the development of new homogeneous nickel catalysts for selective carbon dioxide reduction with tunable geometries and polyaromatic frameworks with increased delocalization for catalysis.