CO2 conversion methods to remediate anthropogenic emissions 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 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, or by direct electrochemical reduction of CO2. Direct electrochemical conversion of CO2 into value-added products is a low-temperature process, with the 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 as a hydrogen storage medium. On top of that, direct formic acid, and more recently direct formate, fuel cells, have been investigated as they demonstrate significant benefits over methanol fuel cells, including higher open circuit voltage and lower crossover.
Pb and Bi are promising catalysts with good selectivity for formate. In the case of lead, it can be prepared in the form of dendrites with nanometre-sized tips. Local high electric fields can exist at the tip of these dendrites that can induce a concentration of electrolytes which in turn leads to improve electroreduction of CO2 []. Bismuth is non-toxic and has negligible environmental impact. It has few commercial applications, and its price has been low and relatively stable in recent years.
In this work, we studied the activity and stability for CO2 electroreduction onto high surface area metallic Pb films. The latter Pb films were further functionalized by Bi overlayers to enhance CO2 reduction properties. For both materials, the material films were prepared through a 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.
 M. Fang, S. Garbarino, G.A. Botton, A.C. Tavares and D. Guay, J. Mater. Chem A 5 (2017) 20747-20756