Development of new catalysts for efficient CO2 utilization
The excess electrical energy delivered by renewables can be used to convert CO2 to value-added chemicals by electrolysis. This scenario refers to energy storage directly in industrial sites: CO2 will be provided from the industrial exhausts and electrical energy will be supplied by solar panels or windmills installed at the same location. Thus, CO2 will be converted to useful chemicals onsite. This will have an impact simultaneously on the environment (cutting down CO2 emissions) and on the chemical industry (production of value-added chemicals). Desired products of the aqueous electrochemical CO2 reduction are carbon monoxide, ethylene, or alcohols.
To find more efficient catalysts for the selective CO2 conversion, we couple the SFC to online mass spectrometry. The volatile products of the CO2 reduction are separated from the liquid phase using a hydrophobic Teflon membrane near the opening of the SFC, and the gaseous species are driven to the mass spectrometer. We can thus complement electrochemical data with information on the gaseous products formed on different catalyst compositions and potentials. For example, we show below the mass spectrometry data on the ethylene formation from CO2 using a copper-cobalt alloy sample with a varying content of copper across the one axis. After scanning the sample with the SFC across this axis, it is possible to obtain potential-resolved information on the impact of the copper content on the ethylene formation. The formation of other gases can be monitored in parallel (e.g. hydrogen, methane, etc).
- Screening of material libraries for electrochemical CO2 reduction catalysts - Improving selectivity of Cu by mixing with Co, Journal of Catalysis, 343 (2016) 248-256.
- Coupling of a scanning flow cell with online electrochemical mass spectrometry for screening of reaction selectivity, Review of Scientific Instruments, 85 (2014) art. no. 104101.