GETCO2 Nanogenerator turns CO2 into Sustainable Power

GETCO2 researchers have built a nanogenerator that absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) to make electricity.

Dr Zhuyuan Wang from GETCO2 says the small, proof-of-concept nanogenerator is carbon negative because it consumes the greenhouse gas.

“This nanogenerator is made of two components: a polyamine gel that is already used by industry to absorb CO2 and a skeleton a few atoms thick of boron nitrate that generates positive and negative ions. We’ve worked out how to make the positive ions much larger than the negative ions and because the different sizes move at different speeds, they generate a diffusion current which can be amplified into electricity to power light bulbs or any electronic device”, Dr Wang said.

“In nature and in the human body, ion transportation is the most efficient energy conversion – more efficient than electron transportation which is used in the power network.”

The two components were embedded in a hydrogel which is 90 per cent water, cut into 4-centimetre discs and small rectangles and then tested in a sealed box pumped full of CO2.

“When we saw electrical signals coming out, I was very excited but worried I’d made a mistake. I double-checked everything, and it was working correctly so I started dreaming about changing the world using this technology. This technology goes further than being carbon neutral – it consumes CO2 as it generates energy,” Dr Wang said.

“At present we can harvest around 1 percent of the total energy carried intrinsically by gas CO2 but like other technologies, we will now work on improving efficiency and reducing cost.”

See Dr Zhuyuan Wang explain how the nanogenerator works in this video.

 

Director of the Dow Centre, Professor Xiwang Zhang, said following the success of the laboratory tests, there are two potential applications for the nanogenerator in the future.

“We could make a slightly bigger device that is portable to generate electricity to power a mobile phone or a laptop computer using CO2 from the atmosphere,” Professor Zhang said.

“A second application on a much larger scale, would integrate this technology with an industrial CO2 capture process to harvest electricity.”

The development of the nanogenerator will continue through GETCO2, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Green Electrochemical Transformation of Carbon Dioxide which is led by UQ with Professor Zhang as Director.

“We want to realise the value in a problematic greenhouse gas and to change the perception of CO2. Until now CO2 has been seen as a problem to be solved but it can be a resource for the future,” Professor Zhang said.

The research has been published in Nature Communications.

Authors: Zhuyuan WangTing HuMike TebyetekerwaXiangkang ZengFan DuYuan KangXuefeng LiHao ZhangHuanting Wang & Xiwang Zhang

Screenshot of the nanogenerator animation

This article is based on a UQ Communications media release published on 18 April 2024.

GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Prof Karen Wilson

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science. Meet these talented and hard-working women and be inspired by their advice for others hoping to excel in their careers.

Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson

Professor Karen Wilson is a Chief Investigator and Theme Leader at GETCO2, and is Professor of Catalysis and Director of the Centre for Catalysis and Clean Energy at Griffith University. She has previously held a prestigious Royal Society Industry Fellowship in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and is Associate Editor of Sustainable Energy & Fuels (Royal Society of Chemistry), and Energy & Environmental Materials (Wiley) and Editorial Board member for Energy & Environmental Science (Royal Society of Chemistry). Karen co-directs the Surfaces, Materials & Catalysis Group, where her research focuses on the rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for sustainable chemistry and utilisation of renewable feedstocks in the production of fuels and chemicals.

What are you most proud of in your career?

As the first member of my family to go to university, obtaining my BA and PhD from Cambridge University was a proud moment in my career. However, a particular highlight was being awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship in 2011 which was in collaboration with Johnson Matthey, and allowed me to establish important links with industry and understand the real-world challenges of my research.

What do you love most about your research? 

I enjoy doing work that matters to society and has impact. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing your research contribute to development of an industrial process, being able to explain the significance of your work to the public. However, one of the most satisfying aspects of my role comes from being able to assist one of your students or mentees transition to having a successful career.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

Be patient and stay positive, establish a good network of mentors and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There may be some bumps in the road, but you will get through to the other side if you have the right people by your side. We all need a cheerleader, and finding one at an early stage of your career who will support you and think of you when opportunities arise will be a huge boost to your career.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. How do we invest in Women in research and science?

We need to recognise that everyone is different, and their careers will develop at different rates. There needs to be more women visible in positions of leadership, and an emphasis on trying to discourage nepotism in the scientific community to increase diversity in research teams. A move away from relying on journal-based metrics as a benchmark for excellence by funding agencies as recommended by the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) would be another step in the right direction.

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Prof Rachel Caruso

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science. Meet these talented and hard-working women and be inspired by their advice for others hoping to excel in their careers.

Rachel Caruso

Rachel Caruso

Professor Rachel Caruso is the Deputy Director at GETCO2 and a RMIT Distinguished Professor in the School of Science, working in the discipline of Applied Chemistry and Environmental Science at RMIT University. She leads a research group that investigates approaches to control the morphology and composition of inorganic materials with potential application in areas such as photocatalysis, photovoltaics and batteries.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am really proud of seeing recent PhD students in the group graduate after severe COVID lockdowns in Melbourne that prevented laboratory access for well over a year of their PhD journey. Having mentored them through this difficult and frustrating time, when we could only meet online and did not know when experiments could get started, it has been amazing to see their persistence and dedication as they have completed the research required for their theses. These students have developed strengths in resilience and patience, as well as excellent time management skills having been able to progress their projects and answer their research questions in the limited laboratory time available to them.

What do you love most about your research? 

There are a number of things I love about my research, from working through scientific challenges and trying to find solutions to meeting and working with a variety of people. I have really enjoyed conducting research in collaboration with other research groups. This has allowed me to work alongside remarkable colleagues, as we pool our research strengths and tackle the problem at hand. It has exposed me to new research areas and different research questions, and I have also learnt from observing other people’s approaches to conducting research.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

Follow your passion and work on things that fascinate you. Careers go through times of highs and lows, so it is important to celebrate successes and to find good mentors or develop approaches that help you through when things are tough.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. How do we invest in Women in research and science?

To invest in women in research and science we need women involved in setting research agendas and leading research projects. As a Centre we will be investing in women at all stages of their research careers: inspiring students in primary and secondary schools, training young scientist and engineers in their tertiary studies, building leadership skillsets in our early career researchers, giving opportunities to our mid-career academics, and supporting those in leadership roles. This investment will accelerate progress and drive scientific discovery.

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Ms Yu Yang

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science.

Yu Yang

Yu Yang

Yu Yang is a PhD candidate in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney. She is conducting research in the field of ‘Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide/Carbon Monoxide Reduction’ under the supervision of Dr. Fengwang Li. She is interested in CO2 capture and utilisation, specifically (bi)carbonate/carbamate conversion, and is trying to develop a carbon-efficient CO2 conversion system.

Yu won the Best Student Presentation Award at GETCO2’s International Symposium on Green Transformation of Carbon Dioxide in 2023.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am most proud of my ability to overcome challenges and continually grow both personally and professionally throughout my career. Whether it’s tackling complex projects, navigating new technologies, or fostering collaborations, each achievement has been a stepping stone toward realising my goals and making a positive impact in my field.

What do you love most about your research?

What I love most about my research is the opportunity to explore the unknown and contribute to advancements in science and technology. Every day brings new discoveries, challenges, and opportunities for innovation, allowing me to constantly learn and push the boundaries of knowledge in my field.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

My advice for other women aiming to excel in their careers is to be confident. Believe in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to take risks or pursue opportunities outside your comfort zone. Seek out mentors and mates who can support and champion your growth. Setbacks are always part of the journey—use them as opportunities to learn and grow stronger.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress‘. How do we invest in women in research and science?

I think we can invest in women in research and science by actively promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity in all aspects of the scientific community. This includes creating welcoming and supportive platforms and environments where individuals from diverse backgrounds feel valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents. We also need to encourage open dialogue and collaboration, challenge biases, and promise equity in opportunities and resources.

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

GETCO2 celebrates International Women’s Day 2024

As we approach International Women’s Day on 8 March 2024, it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of the remarkable women we have working with us in GETCO2 – from Research to Operations. Hear about their passion for science and leadership and get their take on this year’s IWD campaign, ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’.

Zaiping Guo

Zaiping Guo

Professor Zaiping Guo is a Chief Investigator at GETCO2 and an Australian Laureate Fellow at the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Adelaide. She is also an Associate Editor for Chemical Science, a flagship journal of the RSC. She was elected to the Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2023. Zaiping’s research focuses on the design and application of electrode materials and electrolyte for energy storage and conversion, including rechargeable batteries, hydrogen storage, and fuel cells.

Read Zaiping’s opinion on how we invest in women in research and science.

 

Eloise Larsen

Eloise Larsen

Dr Eloise Larsen is the Chief Operations Officer at GETCO2. She has a research background in microbiology focusing on water resources management and water quality. Prior to her current role, Eloise was the Centre Manager at UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and has worked as Project Manager at the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Queensland, Research Portfolio Manager at the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities and also held positions at SEQWater, QUT and Griffith University.

Read Eloise’s vision for more women in STEM.

 

 

Yu Yang

Yu Yang

Yu Yang is a PhD candidate in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney. She is conducting research in the field of ‘Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide/Carbon Monoxide Reduction’ under the supervision of Dr. Fengwang Li. She is interested in CO2 capture and utilisation, specifically (bi)carbonate/carbamate conversion, and is trying to develop a carbon-efficient CO2 conversion system. Yu won the Best Student Presentation Award at GETCO2’s International Symposium on Green Transformation of Carbon Dioxide in 2023.

Read Yu’s advice for women to excel in their careers.

 

Rachel Caruso

Rachel Caruso

Professor Rachel Caruso is the Deputy Director at GETCO2 and a RMIT Distinguished Professor in the School of Science, working in the discipline of Applied Chemistry and Environmental Science at RMIT University. She leads a research group that investigates approaches to control the morphology and composition of inorganic materials with potential application in areas such as photocatalysis, photovoltaics and batteries.

Read Rachel’s ambitions to attract more women to GETCO2.

 

 

Karen Wilson

Karen Wilson

Professor Karen Wilson is a Chief Investigator and Theme Leader at GETCO2, and is Professor of Catalysis and Director of the Centre for Catalysis and Clean Energy at Griffith University. She has previously held a prestigious Royal Society Industry Fellowship in collaboration with Johnson Matthey and is Associate Editor of Sustainable Energy & Fuels (Royal Society of Chemistry), and Energy & Environmental Materials (Wiley) and Editorial Board member for Energy & Environmental Science (Royal Society of Chemistry). Karen co-directs the Surfaces, Materials & Catalysis Group, where her research focuses on the rational design of heterogeneous catalysts for sustainable chemistry and utilisation of renewable feedstocks in the production of fuels and chemicals.

Read Karen’s suggestions to how we include more women in science.

GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Prof Zaiping Guo

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science. Meet these talented and hard-working women and be inspired by their advice for others hoping to excel in their careers.

Zaiping Guo

Zaiping Guo

  • Professor Zaiping Guo is an Australian Laureate Fellow at School of Chemical Engineering, The University of Adelaide. She is also an Associate Editor for Chemical Science, a flagship journal of the RSC. She was elected to the Fellow of Australian Academy of Science and Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 2023. Her research focuses on the design and application of electrode materials and electrolyte for energy storage and conversion, including rechargeable batteries, hydrogen storage, and fuel cells. Her research achievements have been recognized through numerous awards, including an ARC Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship in 2010, an ARC Future Professorial Fellowship in 2015, an ARC Laureate Fellowship (2021), and the Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher Award in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023. She was also awarded 2020 NSW Premier’s Prizes for Science & Engineering for Excellence in Engineering or Information and Communications Technology.

 

What are you most proud of in your career?

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my career has been mentoring and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers in the field of energy storage. Seeing my students and mentees thrive and contribute meaningfully to the advancement of battery technology brings me immense pride and satisfaction

What do you love most about your job?

What I love most about my job is the opportunity to explore and innovate in the field of energy storage and conversion. Every day presents new challenges and opportunities to push the boundaries of what’s possible in energy storage and conversion, and that constant sense of discovery is incredibly rewarding.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

My advice to other women is to embrace their unique strengths and perspectives. Diversity of thought and experience is invaluable in any field, and women bring a valuable perspective to the table. Be confident in your abilities and don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas.

Don’t be afraid to take risks and embrace challenges. Growth often comes from stepping outside your comfort zone and taking on new and unfamiliar tasks. Be open to new opportunities and don’t let fear of failure hold you back. Also, remember to prioritize self-care. Balancing a successful career with other aspects of your life can be challenging, but it’s essential for overall well-being and success. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’. How do we invest in women in research and science?

Offer professional development programs, workshops, and training opportunities to help women researchers advance in their careers. Provide access to resources, networks, and opportunities for collaboration. Also, highlighting the contributions of women in research and science can inspire others and promote gender equality.

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

GETCO2 International Women’s Day Series: Dr Eloise Larsen

Our International Women’s Day 2024 Series celebrates GETCO2’s trailblazer women in Science. Meet these talented and hard-working women and be inspired by their advice for others hoping to excel in their careers.

Eloise Larsen

Eloise Larsen

Dr Eloise Larsen is the Chief Operations Officer at GETCO2. She has a research background in microbiology focusing on water resources management and water quality. Prior to her current role, Eloise was the Centre Manager at UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation and has worked as Project Manager at the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology at the University of Queensland, Research Portfolio Manager at the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities and also held positions at SEQWater, QUT and Griffith University.

What are you most proud of in your career?

When I was young I thought I could have it all! I learnt over time that ‘having it all’ takes compromise & hard work, which luckily I’m not afraid of! I was always curious to try different things in my career & my path has not always been clear.  On IWD, I’m proud that I’ve managed to forge my own way while adapting to changing family responsibilities.

What do you love most about your research/job/studies? 

I love working with inspirational people. And I love science that has tangible impact. I feel my current role as COO of GETCO2 is a dream job – I get to work with the best minds on mitigating a problem that has global scale.

What is your advice for other women to excel in their careers?

Find those people who have faith in you. Constantly learn from the people around you & help each other to achieve life & career goals.

The campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress‘. How do we invest in women in research and science?

In my career I have often been in situations where I’m the ‘only woman in the room’. It’s difficult to navigate the culture in these situations & stay true to yourself. I want our Centre to create a scaffold for the realisation of talent so that women are supported, not just to enter STEM but to stay in STEM!

Back to GETCO2’s IWD profiles.

Ruth Knibbe Elected as Regional Representative for the International Society of Electrochemistry

Associate Professor Ruth Knibbe has been elected as the International Society of Electrochemistry (ISE) ‘s regional representative for Australia and New Zealand.  In this important role, she will join a group of regional representatives from 41 countries and act as a link between the Society and its members from the region.

ISE’s mission is to advance electrochemical science and technology, promote international cooperation in electrochemistry, and provide a platform for the exchange of scientific information and ideas. The Society was founded in 1949 to serve electrochemistry’s growing needs as a modern scientific discipline. It now comprises about 3000 individual members and more than 20 Corporate Members across the world.

The appointment as the Regional Representative for the International Society of Electrochemistry is a testament to Ruth’s expertise and leadership in the field of electrochemistry. She has a range of leadership and community development experience – apart from her role as GETCO2 Chief Investigator, Ruth is a Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of School in the School of Mechanical & Mining Engineering at the University of Queensland.

As part of ISE, Ruth looks forward to the opportunity to support and empower the next generation of electrochemists. Her focus will be on improving knowledge exchange through the development of workshops and seminars, along with continuing communication improvement through social media platforms. She will also support and promote regional conferences, recognising their key role in fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Learn more about the International Society of Electrochemistry.

ISGTCO2: A Grand Success

The inaugural International Symposium on Green Transformation of Carbon Dioxide (ISGTCO2) was a grand success, with over 170 delegates from around the world gathering in Brisbane, Australia, from 28 November to 1 December 2023.

The symposium aimed to inspire and advance research collaboration on using carbon dioxide as a resource and developing solutions to accelerate the progress toward net-zero targets. With the theme, “Cooperating on a global opportunity,” the symposium embodied the spirit of GETCO2 as an international, multi-institutional, inter-disciplinary, and highly collaborative ARC Centre of Excellence.

Over three days, ISGTCO2 covered 100 presentations across three concurrent streams. The topics spanned across CO2 capture, CO2 reduction technology landscape, catalysts, membrane electrolysis, system simulation, advanced characterisation, and carbon bonds. In between the highly technical discussions and presentations, there was also time to network, attend a gala dinner at the beautiful Customs House on the Brisbane River – and an opportunity to meet some local Australian wildlife!

The feedback from delegates was overwhelmingly positive and confirmed the importance of bringing experts together from across the world to share their insights and join forces in the journey towards a sustainable future.

Now it is time to GETCO2!

Symposium stats:

  • 171 delegates from 10 countries
  • 36 female delegates
  • 100 presentations
  • 1 wombat, 1 owl and 3 reptiles (representing the local wild Australians)

Symposium Plenary speakers:

Symposium award winners:

Congratulations to:

  • Dae-Hyun Nam, Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (DGIST) – winner of the Shimadzu Best Presentation Award, sponsored by Shimadzu Corporation
  • Yu Yang, the University of Sydney – winner of the Best Student Presentation Award, sponsored by Elsevier Materials Today Chemistry
  • Ahmad Zhafran Md Azmi, University of New South Wales – winner of the Best Student Presentation Award, sponsored by Elsevier Materials TodayChemistry
  • Aoni Xu, Technical University of Denmark– winner of the PerkinElmer Outstanding Young Researcher Award, sponsored by PerkinElmer
  • Timothy Duignan, Griffith University – winner of the Wiley Outstanding Young Researcher Award, sponsored by Wiley

Symposium sponsors:

A big thanks to our sponsors for their support:

Program booklet and more info:

For more information about ISGTCO2 2023 please visit the Symposium website and check the program booklet.

GETCO2 Highly Cited Researchers 2023 Awards

Congratulations to  GETCO2 researchers Professor Xiwang Zhang, Professor Chuan Zhao, Professor Zaiping Guo  and Professor Feng Jiao (Partner Investigator) on receiving the Highly Cited Researcher 2023 Award from Clarivate!

The prestigious award recognises the exceptional performance of researchers who have a significant number of papers in the top 1% most cited in their field and year of publication. To highlight just how significant these awards are, they are only bestowed on ~1 in 1000 researchers.

This select group of scientists contribute disproportionately to extending the frontiers of knowledge and gaining for society innovations that make the world healthier, more sustainable and more secure.

The full list can be found online here.