Distinguished Speaker Seminar – Professor David Sinton

CO2 Utilization and Electrocatalytic Conversion to Products

Date: January 15, 2021
Time: 1 p.m. (Pacific Time)


Renewably powered CO2 electrocatalysis presents an opportunity to de-carbonize fuel and chemical production. Ultimate application of CO2 reduction will require electrocatalytic systems that provide reactants, electrons, and products at high rate and efficiency, and that are compatible with established upstream and downstream processes. I will outline our progress on membrane electrode assembly based cells to meet this challenge. To accommodate O2 impurities from upstream processes we develop a hydrated ionomer catalyst coating that selectively slows O2 transport and stabilizes the copper catalyst.  To increase reaction rate and energy efficiency we develop an adlayer catalyst strategy that increases local CO2 availability and tunes intermediate adsorption for ethylene production.  For ethanol production we focus on minimizing product cross-over to the anode, targeting ethanol production in excess of the 10wt% – comparable to bio-ethanol production and compatible with downstream processes. Lastly I will highlight learnings, challenges and opportunities arising from our system scaling efforts in the 2020 Carbon XPRIZE competition.


David Sinton is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Department of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, Dr. Sinton was an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Victoria, and a Visiting Associate Professor at Cornell University. The Sinton Lab develops fluid systems for energy applications. The group is application-driven and is currently developing fluid systems to produce renewable fuels and feedstocks from CO2. The group previously developed a library of industrial fluid testing systems to improve chemical performance in the energy industry, now commercialized through the startup Interface Fluidics Ltd.  Dr. Sinton was selected to be an NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellow in 2016. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering.