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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).

Development of new catalysts for efficient CO2 utilizationThe SFC incorporating a capillary connected to the mass spectrometer, schematically represented in (a) and a real image in (b). At the end of the capillary, a porous hydrophobic Teflon membrane separates the gaseous products from the liquid phase. (c) shows the potential- and material composition-dependent formation of ethylene during the conversion of carbon dioxide. Reproduced from Grote et al., J. Catal. 2016, 343, pp. 248-256 with permission from Elsevier.

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