• catalysts;
  • density functional theory;
  • hydrogenation;
  • reaction mechanisms;
  • reduction


The conversion of CO2 into fuels and chemicals is viewed as an attractive route for controlling the atmospheric concentration and recycling of this greenhouse gas, but its industrial application is limited by the low selectivity and activity of the current catalysts. Theoretical modeling, in particular density functional theory (DFT) simulations, provides a powerful and effective tool to discover chemical reaction mechanisms and design new catalysts for the chemical conversion of CO2, overcoming the repetitious and time/labor consuming trial-and-error experimental processes. In this article we give a comprehensive survey of recent advances on mechanism determination by DFT calculations for the catalytic hydrogenation of CO2 into CO, CH4, CH3OH, and HCOOH, and CO2 methanation, as well as the photo- and electrochemical reduction of CO2. DFT-guided design procedures of new catalytic systems are also reviewed, and challenges and perspectives in this field are outlined.