Enhanced electrocatalytic CO2 reduction via field-induced reagent concentration

Min Liu, Yuanjie Pang, Bo Zhang, Phil De Luna, Oleksandr Voznyy, Jixian Xu, Xueli Zheng, Cao Thang Dinh, Fengjia Fan, Changhong Cao, F. Pelayo García De Arquer, Tina Saberi Safaei, Adam Mepham, Anna Klinkova, Eugenia Kumacheva, Tobin Filleter, David Sinton, Shana O. Kelley, Edward H. Sargent*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1063 Scopus citations

Abstract

Electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) is the first step in the synthesis of more complex carbon-based fuels and feedstocks using renewable electricity. Unfortunately, the reaction suffers from slow kinetics owing to the low local concentration of CO2 surrounding typical CO2 reduction reaction catalysts. Alkali metal cations are known to overcome this limitation through non-covalent interactions with adsorbed reagent species, but the effect is restricted by the solubility of relevant salts. Large applied electrode potentials can also enhance CO2 adsorption, but this comes at the cost of increased hydrogen (H2) evolution. Here we report that nanostructured electrodes produce, at low applied overpotentials, local high electric fields that concentrate electrolyte cations, which in turn leads to a high local concentration of CO2 close to the active CO2 reduction reaction surface. Simulations reveal tenfold higher electric fields associated with metallic nanometre-sized tips compared to quasi-planar electrode regions, and measurements using gold nanoneedles confirm a field-induced reagent concentration that enables the CO2 reduction reaction to proceed with a geometric current density for CO of 22 milliamperes per square centimetre at -0.35 volts (overpotential of 0.24 volts). This performance surpasses by an order of magnitude the performance of the best gold nanorods, nanoparticles and oxide-derived noble metal catalysts. Similarly designed palladium nanoneedle electrocatalysts produce formate with a Faradaic efficiency of more than 90 per cent and an unprecedented geometric current density for formate of 10 milliamperes per square centimetre at -0.2 volts, demonstrating the wider applicability of the field-induced reagent concentration concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-386
Number of pages5
JournalNature
Volume537
Issue number7620
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 3 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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