Electrocatalysis for CO2 Conversion: from Fundamentals to Value-added Products

Chinese Academy of Sciences

The electrocatalysis of CO2 reduction (CO2RR) is one of the strategies to convert CO2 into value-added chemical products/fuels thanks to its advantages including the mild reaction conditions, recyclable electrolytes, and eco-friendly driving force by potential synergy with renewable electricity.

It remains a challenge to transform CO2 into desirable products by electrocatalytic processes because of limitations in chemically inert CO2 molecule with strong chemical bonds, complex reaction routine with multiple proton and electron coupling processes, and the competing hydrogen evolution reaction. Therefore, it is necessary to explore efficient electrocatalysts, reveal the intrinsic mechanism on these complex processes, and optimize the electrolytic conditions to promote the development of CO2RR.

Recently, a research group led by Prof. WEN Zhenhai at Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter (FJIRSM) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a comprehensive review on the topic of electrocatalysis for CO2 conversion, and presented comprehensive review on advances in heterogeneous electroreduction of CO2 during the last decades. This paper was published in Chemical Society Reviews.

The researchers firstly introduced the background, fundamental science and development history and influence factors (eg. electrolyzer, working electrode, electrolyte, pH, temperature, pressure) of CO2RR.

They then discussed about the distinctive theoretical calculations and summarized the currently popular electrocatalytic theoretical frameworks.

Besides, the researchers reviewed the emerging strategies for catalyst design, along with recent advances in the analysis and understanding of the structure-property-product relationships, aiming to provide a panorama view of CO2RR catalysts, which is beneficial to establish the roadmap to be paved for exploring new high-performance catalysts toward desired products.

Finally, they predicted future directions and opportunities for rationally designing electrocatalysts, electrolyzers, in-situ characterization techniques, mechanistic understanding, and product optimization and scale-up production.

This study presents a comprehensive review on advances in heterogeneous electroreduction of CO2 during the last decades, which helps to better understand the fundamental science and the cutting-edge research in the field of CO2RR, and inspires the researchers to develop commercial products of CO2RR electrocatalysis.

A timely and comprehensive review mainly summarize advances in heterogeneous electroreduction of CO2: from fundamentals to value-added products. (Image by Prof. WEN’s group)

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