(Keynote) Electroreduction of CO2 on Pb and Bi Nanoneedles Academic Article uri icon

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  • The rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration since the beginning of the Industrial Age has raised concerns on its potential effect on global temperatures. While several factors such as natural climate changes, variations in solar activity, and volcanic eruptions may also contribute to observed variations in CO2 concentrations, it has been well established that anthropogenic emissions contribute to the annual emission of over 30 billion tonnes of CO2, only about half of which is recycled through natural pathways. CO2 conversion into value-added products is an avenue explored to mitigate environmental issues. Conversion methods appear promising, as they offer the potential to produce liquid and gaseous fuels for use either in the aeronautics industry, or as a chemical storage method for the intermittent energy produced by windmills and photovoltaic panels. Fuel synthesis may be achieved via either the production of a syngas mixture (H2 and CO) through the water gas shift reaction and subsequent conversion into hydrocarbon fuel through processes such as Fisher-Tropsch, or by direct electrochemical reduction of CO2. While all methods may result in similar conversion yields, depending on the catalyst used, direct electrochemical conversion of CO2 into value-added products is a low-temperature process, with the further advantage of requiring relatively simple equipment. Formic acid, or formate salts, are used in a variety of chemical processes such as electrowinning, leather tanning, and aircraft de-icing. Alternatively, formic acid and formate salts may be considered a hydrogen storage medium. Direct formic acid, and more recently, direct formate fuel cells, have been investigated in the literature as they demonstrate significant benefits over methanol fuel cells, including higher open circuit voltage and lower crossover. Among earth-abundant CO2 electrocatalysts, Sn, Pb and Bi are known to be highly selective for formate production, with faradic efficiency (FE) > 90%. However, several challenges need to be addressed for these materials to become viable alternatives for industrial applications based on an ERC process to become economically viable. In particular, issues related with large overpotential and low current densities need to be addressed, along with the long term stability of electrodes. In this study, we compared the activity and stability for CO2 electroreduction of high surface area metallic Bi and Pb nanoneedles (see Figure 1). In both cases, the materials films were prepared through a direct electrodeposition (potentiostatic method). Both types of films were extensively characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD), while electrochemical activities were characterized by cyclic voltammetry (CV), linear sweep voltammetry (LSV), and potentiostatic measurements. Figure 1


  • Guay, Daniel
  • Fan, Mengyang
  • Garbarino, Sebastien
  • Tavares, Ana C
  • Prabhudev, Sagar
  • Botton, Gianluigi

publication date

  • May 1, 2019