Edinburgh, United Kingdom



Photocatalysis Reactor and Photoelectrochemical Rigs

Two facilities have been built to perform the photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical reduction of CO2. The photocatalysis reduction of CO2 for gas or liquid phases is performed under UV (365 nm) and visible light source (optical fibre with tuneable light intensity, 50-150 mW cm-2). The gas phase reactor is made of stainless steel with a quartz window on top of the reactor and is connected to a gas chromatograph (GC) for product analysis. The customised reactor allows the placement of samples in the form of powder, thin film or mesh. The humidity throughout the experiment is monitored with a humidity sensor. The reacting temperature can be varied between room temperature to 80 ºC, whereas the flow of CO2 can be varied between 0.07-8 mL min-1.

The liquid phase reactor, which can be pressurise up to 5 bar, has a similar feature as the gas phase. The products obtained can be analysed using GC or Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR). The customised liquid phase reactor can also be used for other photocatalytic reaction in liquid phase, such as photocatalysis of propylene oxide to cyclic carbonates, and is fitted with a solar simulator.

Photoeletrochemical rig is used for photoelectrochemical reduction of CO2 and other form of photoelectrochemical reactions and analysis. The electrochemical workstations (AutoLab PGSTAT 302N and Chi660E), which allow a voltage range of +/- 10 V and current range of +/- 250 mA connected can be used to for material fabrication (electrodeposition and anodization), electrochemical testing, such as chronoamperometry, cyclic voltammetry, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The customised membraneless photoelectrochemical reactor is available for photoelectrocatalytic reduction of CO2 testing.

State of the Art, uniqueness & specific advantages

A gas phase CO2 photoreduction rig consisting of a photodifferential photoreactor fitted with a variable optical fibre irradiance light source (365, 400 – 500 nm filters or full spectrum). The reactor temperature is controlled across the range 25-80°C, and is fitted with an inline humidity saturator (temperature controlled 25–50°C). A four channel gas mixing system is controlled by Bronkhorst mass flow controllers and allow precise control of gas flow, from very low flow (0.07 - 0.7 ml.min-1) to intermediate flow (0.16 - 8 ml.min-1). Gas chromatography or mass spectrometry detectors analysis the photoreduction products.

A photoelectrochemical rig controlled by a Autolab PGSTAT 302N electrochemical workstation and/or a CHI660E electrochemical workstataion, which allow a voltage range of +/- 10V and a controlled current range of +/-250mA or +/-2A.

Scientific Environment

The Research Centre for Carbon Solutions (RCCS) at Heriot-Watt University, is an interdisciplinary world-leading engineering centre, inspiring and delivering innovation for the wider deployment of technologies needed to meet necessary carbon targets. The RCCS occupy over 350 m2, across ten separate and interlinked laboratories, with dedicated high-end analytical research instruments and many bespoke in-house designed systems and rigs for advanced research and process development dedicated to research into Carbon Capture, Storage, Transport and Utilisation, in addition to facilitating several projects in the fields of Low Carbon System and Negative Emission Technologies. Along with facilitating our core research activities, the RCCS welcomes Academic and Industrial collaborators, and offers external contract analysis services.

Operating by

Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University
United Kingdom
UTILISATION technologies:
Electrochemical and Photochemical Conversion of CO2, CO2 Conversion to Solid Carbonates
Research Fields:
Chemistry/Geochemistry, Material science, Modelling, Engineering

Location & Contacts

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Dr Sean Higgins
RICC Contacts - Secondary contact
Dr Simon Gregory

Facility Availability

Availability per year (in UA)
Up to 10 days per year
Duration of a typical access (average) and number of external users expected for that access
1 UA (day)

Quality Control / Quality Assurance (QA)

Activities / tests / data are:
State of Quality: Equipment calibrated and validated by qualified staff using recognised industry standard techniques

Operational or other constraints

Specific risks:
Specialist research equipment will require qualified facility staff to operate, therefore access depending on resource and staff availability. A risk assessment will be required prior to any work taking place in the facility. All external visitors will undergo a safety induction and be provided with written safety instructions.
Legal issues:

CCUS Projects

Other CCUS Projects
Low carbon jet fuel through integration of novel technologies for co-valorisation of CO2 and biomass.
Novel adsorbents applied to integrated energy-efficient industrial CO2 capture.
Solar fuels via engineering innovation
CO2 injection and storage - Short and long-term behaviour at different spatial scales.
Innovate UK
Next Generation Green Data Centres for Environmental and Business Sustainability.

Selected Publications

1 Jul In : Faraday Discussions. 215, p. 329-344. (2019)
A microfluidic photoelectrochemical cell for solar-driven CO2 conversion into liquid fuels with CuO-based photocathodes.
Kalamaras, E., Belekoukia, M., Tan, J. Z. Y., Xuan, J., Maroto-Valer, M. M. & Andresen, J. M.
4 Sep , In : ChemSusChem. (2019)
Novel Raspberry-like Microspheres of Core-shell Cr2O3/TiO2 Nanoparticles for CO2 Photoreduction.
Tan, J. Z. Y., Xia, F. & Maroto-Valer, M. M.
1 Jul, In : Faraday Discussions. 215, p. 407-421. (2019)
Photo-generation of cyclic carbonates using hyper-branched Ru-TiO2.
Gavrielides, S., Tan, J. Z. Y., Sanchez Fernandez, E. & Maroto-Valer, M. M.
16 Jul, In : RSC Advances. 9, 38, p. 21660-21666. (2019)
Systematic study of TiO2/ZnO mixed metal oxides for CO2 photoreduction.
Thompson, W. A., Olivo, A., Zanardo, D., Cruciani, G., Menegazzo, F., Signoretto, M. & Maroto-Valer, M. M.
10 Jul, In : Applied Catalysis B: Environmental. (2018)
Systematic study of sol-gel parameters on TiO2 coating for CO2 photoreduction.
Thompson, W. A., Perier, C. & Maroto-Valer, M. M.