Electrochemical CO conversion to valuable chemicals

Seminar series
Inorganic Chemistry
Wed, Oct 10 4:30pm
3440 Mol Sci
Speaker Feng Jiao, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Electrochemical CO conversion to valuable chemicals


Feng Jiao

Center of Catalytic Science and Technology, Department and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716 (USA)

Email: jiao@udel.edu


The rapid development of novel energy technologies has decreased renewable electricity prices significantly over the past decade. This foreseen cheap electricity has motivated significant research interest in the development of electrified pathways for chemical and fuel production. Compared to traditional chemical processes driven by fossil energy, electrochemical processes are often more environmentally friendly, can operate under relatively mild conditions, and can also be coupled with renewable electricity sources at remote locations. Recently, carbon monoxide electrolysis has been reported to yield enhanced multi-carbon (C2+) Faradaic efficiencies up to ~55% but only at low reaction rates. This is due to the low solubility of CO in aqueous electrolytes and operation in batch-type reactors. Here, we present a high-performance CO flow electrolyzer with a well-controlled electrode-electrolyte interface that can reach total current densities up to 1 A/cm2 together with improved C2+ selectivities. Computational transport modelling and isotopic C18O reduction experiments suggest the enhanced activity is due to a higher surface pH under CO reduction conditions, which facilitated the production of acetate. At optimal operating conditions, we achieve a C2+ Faradaic efficiency of ~91% with a C2+ partial current density over 630 mA/cm2. Further investigations show that maintaining an efficient triple-phase boundary at the electrode-electrolyte interface is the most critical challenge to achieving a stable CO/CO2 electrolysis process at high rates.