Enhanced multi-carbon alcohol electroproduction from CO via modulated hydrogen adsorption

Jun Li, Aoni Xu, Fengwang Li, Ziyun Wang, Chengqin Zou, Christine M. Gabardo, Yuhang Wang, Adnan Ozden, Yi Xu, Dae Hyun Nam, Yanwei Lum, Joshua Wicks, Bin Chen, Zhiqiang Wang, Jiatang Chen, Yunzhou Wen, Taotao Zhuang, Mingchuan Luo, Xiwen Du, Tsun Kong ShamBo Zhang, Edward H. Sargent, David Sinton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Multi-carbon alcohols such as ethanol are valued as fuels in view of their high energy density and ready transport. Unfortunately, the selectivity toward alcohols in CO2/CO electroreduction is diminished by ethylene production, especially when operating at high current densities (>100 mA cm−2). Here we report a metal doping approach to tune the adsorption of hydrogen at the copper surface and thereby promote alcohol production. Using density functional theory calculations, we screen a suite of transition metal dopants and find that incorporating Pd in Cu moderates hydrogen adsorption and assists the hydrogenation of C2 intermediates, providing a means to favour alcohol production and suppress ethylene. We synthesize a Pd-doped Cu catalyst that achieves a Faradaic efficiency of 40% toward alcohols and a partial current density of 277 mA cm−2 from CO electroreduction. The activity exceeds that of prior reports by a factor of 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3685
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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