Nature Research Converts CO2 To Ethylene Using Dioxide Materials Technology

Graphical abstract: Setup and chemical reactions for electrolysis using Dioxide Materials cell hardware and Sustainion AEM

A Nature publication titled ‘Molecular tuning of CO2-to-ethylene conversion’ reports the CO2RR to ethylene conversion with a Faradaic efficiency of 72 per cent at a partial current density of 230 milliamperes per square centimeter. The study is performed at neutral medium in a liquid-electrolyte Dioxide Materials flow cell with a Sustainion® Anion Exchange Membrane. The operating current and ethylene FE for the device during an extended electrolysis in the aforementioned cell is displayed below:

Figure 1: Ethylene electrosynthesis in a membrane-electrode assembly device.

The molecular tuning strategy includes the functionalization of the surface of electrocatalysts with organic molecules—that stabilizes intermediates for more selective CO2RR to ethylene. Using electrochemical, operando/in situ spectroscopic

and computational studies, they investigate the influence of a library of molecules, derived by electro-dimerization of aryl pyridiniums, adsorbed on copper. One of the findings is that adhered molecules improve the stabilization of an ‘atop-bound’ CO

intermediate (that is, an intermediate bound to a single copper atom), thereby favoring further reduction to ethylene.

This strategy, implemented with N-aryl-substituted tetrahydro-bipyridine films and a related oligomeric film on a Cu catalyst, achieved CO2-to-ethylene conversion with an ethylene FE of 72% and a full-cell energy efficiency of 20%.  In light of this performance, in combination with the long-term operating stability, this is a promising strategy for the use of renewable electricity to convert CO2 into value-added chemicals, thus storing the renewable energy (solar, wind) in the form of chemical energy.

Figure 2: Schematic (right) and actual (right) experimental setup. The flow cell hardware is purchased from Dioxide Materials as is the Sustainion AEM used in this study.

Also read this Nature research which uses Sustanion® membranes to convert CO2 to 100% Formic Acid.

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