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Friday, Nov. 27, 2015

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Celebrate Princeton Invention: Andrew Bocarsly

Andrew Bocarsly

Chemistry professor Andrew Bocarsly keeps watch as carbon dioxide and water are converted into methanol and oxygen with visible light-emitting diodes, which are used to simulate sunlight in the laboratory. (Photo: Brian Wilson)

Name: Andrew Bocarsly, professor of chemistry

Electrochemical and photoelectrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide to organic products

What it does: Carried out in a special photoelectrochemical cell, this process enables the conversion of carbon dioxide into organic fuels, such as methanol, using visible light and water.

Interest in the conversion of carbon dioxide into usable fuels was sparked during the 1973 oil crisis, but the amount of energy required to activate the reaction presented a tremendous hurdle. Bocarsly and his colleagues first published a novel way to lower this barrier in 1993, which went largely unnoticed for a decade until concerns about global warming and energy security caused a resurgence of interest in the technology.

Emily Barton-Cole, a 2009 Ph.D. recipient, graduate students Katherine Keets and Elizabeth Zeitler, postdoctoral research associate Amanda Morris

Commercialization status:
Liquid Light Inc., established in October 2009, has licensed this process from Princeton and is making rapid progress toward the establishment of a viable technology.

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