Designing reliable and accurate isotope-tracer experiments for CO2 photoreduction

Nat Commun. 2023 May 3;14(1):2534. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-38052-0.


The photoreduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) into renewable synthetic fuels is an attractive approach for generating alternative energy feedstocks that may compete with and eventually displace fossil fuels. However, it is challenging to accurately trace the products of CO2 photoreduction on account of the poor conversion efficiency of these reactions and the imperceptible introduced carbon contamination. Isotope-tracing experiments have been used to solve this problem, but they frequently yield false-positive results because of improper experimental execution and, in some cases, insufficient rigor. Thus, it is imperative that accurate and effective strategies for evaluating various potential products of CO2 photoreduction are developed for the field. Herein, we experimentally demonstrate that the contemporary approach toward isotope-tracing experiments in CO2 photoreduction is not necessarily rigorous. Several examples of where pitfalls and misunderstandings arise, consequently making isotope product traceability difficult, are demonstrated. Further, we develop and describe standard guidelines for isotope-tracing experiments in CO2 photoreduction reactions and then verify the procedure using some reported photoreduction systems.

PMID:37137896 | PMC:PMC10156805 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-023-38052-0


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