Efficient electrocatalytic conversion of carbon monoxide to propanol using fragmented copper

Yuanjie Pang, Jun Li, Ziyun Wang, Chih Shan Tan, Pei Lun Hsieh, Tao Tao Zhuang, Zhi Qin Liang, Chengqin Zou, Xue Wang, Phil De Luna, Jonathan P. Edwards, Yi Xu, Fengwang Li, Cao Thang Dinh, Miao Zhong, Yuanhao Lou, Dan Wu, Lih Juann Chen, Edward H. Sargent, David Sinton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


The renewable-energy-powered electrocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide into carbon-based fuels provides a means for the storage of renewable energy. We sought to convert carbon monoxide—an increasingly available and low-cost feedstock that could benefit from an energy-efficient upgrade in value—into n-propanol, an alcohol that can be directly used as engine fuel. Here we report that a catalyst consisting of highly fragmented copper structures can bring C 1 and C 2 binding sites together, and thereby promote further coupling of these intermediates into n-propanol. Using this strategy, we achieved an n-propanol selectivity of 20% Faradaic efficiency at a low potential of −0.45 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode (ohmic corrected) with a full-cell energetic efficiency of 10.8%. We achieved a high reaction rate that corresponds to a partial current density of 8.5 mA cm –2 for n-propanol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-258
Number of pages8
JournalNature Catalysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Process Chemistry and Technology


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