Designing nanoscale alloy catalysts to reduce carbon dioxide

2013-2014 E²SHI Seed Grant

Research Team

Tim Mueller (Principal Investigator), Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science & Engineering, School of Engineering
Chao Wang, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, School of Engineering

Approximately 80% of today’s world’s primary energy consumption comes from fossil fuels, and the resulting release of carbon dioxide (CO₂) contributes to long-term climate change. There is the potential to create a clean, sustainable fuel cycle if CO₂ can be converted back into fuel, such as gasoline. However there is currently no economically viable way to accomplish this due to the inefficiency of chemical processes to make it happen.

To address this, Tim Mueller and Chao Wang explored how to develop copper alloy nanoparticle catalysts that could facilitate the process of converting CO₂ into fuel. This research could lead to a carbon-neutral future in which clean energy sources such as wind and solar power are used to generate electricity, which in turn is used to convert CO₂ into high energy density fuels that are more efficient and useful.


Article: A New Breed of Catalysts. The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering Magazine. Winter 2015 issue.

Learn about Dr. Tim Mueller's research in materials for energy storage and conversion.


Raciti, D., Livi, K.J., Wang, C. 2015. “Highly Dense Cu Nanowires for Low-Overpotential CO₂ Reduction.” Nano Letters, 15: 6829-6835.

Dr. Chao Wang (left) and Dr. Tim Mueller (right) teamed up for the E²SHI seed grant project.
Photo credit: Will Kirk/

Climate change has happened because of human behavior, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue. It may not be too late if we take decisive actions today.
— Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General