Dr Cathren E. Gowenlock

Sêr Cymru II Fellow

Person imageDr Cathren E. Gowenlock
  • Sêr Cymru II Fellow
  • Research Assistant at Swansea University
  • EngD in Materials, Swansea University
  • 6+ years industrial experience in the Gas Industry
  • MSc Analytical Chemistry, University of Bristol


Nanostructured materials with target modifiers for electro-catalytic reduction of carbon dioxide (TMERC).


Description of the project

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a major threat to the sustainable future of the planet as it is widely recognised that they cause a rise in global temperature associated with climate change. One approach to mitigating this threat is to chemically convert CO2 to hydrocarbons by electro-catalytic reduction. Hydrocarbons thus produced (e.g. methane, ethylene, carbon monoxide) can then act as useful feedstocks for the chemical industry or be used as fuels.

The big challenge with the electro-catalysis of CO2 in an aqueous environment to form methane (CH4) is that there is competition between two contradictory reactions: the electro-reduction of CO2 and the evolution of hydrogen. As well as a high concentration of CO2 and activation of CO2, delivery of eight protons and electrons are required.

CO2 + 8 H+ + 8e- → CH4 + 2H2O

The aim of this project is to address this challenge by developing a novel hybrid heterogeneous electro-catalytic surface that can simultaneously promote the electro-reduction of CO2 and control the evolution of hydrogen. The design of the catalytic surface will use a novel bi-functional material approach, using hybrid self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) with one or more nanostructured target modifiers that will promote the activation of CO2 and inhibit the formation of hydrogen. Fundamental structure-property relationships will be established showing how the surface chemistry created by the target modifiers promotes or inhibits the two key contradictory reactions.

Cathy prj 1.png Cathy prj 2.png

Research Funding

This project has received funding from the West Wales and the Valleys ERDF Programme 2014-2020 under project number 80761-SU-089.



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