Bromine-sensitized solar photolysis of CO2

Mark S. Braiman, Wilfried Sailer-Kronlachner, Christopher J. Varjas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Direct photochemical reduction of CO2 has generally been accomplished by using transition-metal compounds as electron transfer reagents. Here, we show that elemental bromine can function as an alternative photosensitizer. When sunlight is tightly focused on mixtures of CO2 and Br2, in the presence of a polar adsorbent such as silica gel, glass wool, alumina, or titania, a metastable red adduct is formed within seconds and concentrates at the point of illumination. Further illumination causes deposition of a stable black film on the polar adsorbent. Mass spectrometry of the cold-trapped red intermediate shows clusters of peaks corresponding to the expected distribution of isotopomers of C2O 4Br4+, as well as of C2O 4Br3+. DFT computations indicate that the lowest-energy species with the formula C2O4Br4 is trans-2,4-dibromo-2,4-dihypobromo-1,3-dioxetane. Formation of this molecule from (2CO2 + 2Br2) would require a minimum of 3 visible photons, two of which would hypothetically be used in formation of as-yet undetected CO2Br2 and the third, in a subsequent photodimerization. By elemental analysis, the final amorphous solid product contains a C/Br atomic ratio >12, suggesting that Br2 is acting photocatalytically. Even with a poorly optimized optical system, the reaction rate has reached as high as 1.6 mg reduced C with 40 s of solar collection using a 30 cm diameter paraboloid reflector. This rate is consistent with the storage of approximately 1% of incident solar energy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10430-10436
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry B
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 6 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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