Celebrate Princeton Invention: Andrew Bocarsly
Name: Andrew Bocarsly, professor of chemistry
Invention: 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.
Inspiration: 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.
Collaborators: 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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