In: Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, vol. 60, no. 30, pp. 16576-16584, 2021.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) could be a promising carbon source for the production of chemical building blocks. As big chemical processes release significant amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere, it would be a waste not putting effort in finding novel processes to valorize CO2, as it could serve as a cheap and alternative carbon feedstock in our chemical industry.
Electrochemical reduction of CO2 using copper electrodes and (renewable) electricity to common chemicals, such as the C1 products carbon monoxide and methane or the C2 products ethylene and ethanol, has already been reported with high Faradaic efficiencies [1,2]. Although we know that copper has the unique ability to induce C-C coupling, production of C3+ compounds with high Faradaic efficiencies has not been reported yet. The kinetic pathways, and how we can control the selectivity and stability of electrocatalytic CO2 reduction to higher hydrocarbons, remain knowledge gaps and ask for more extended research. In this research, we will unravel these knowledge gaps regarding the kinetic pathways of CO2 reduction and try to enhance the product activity and selectivity (including to higher hydrocarbons C3+). We will use time resolved and high spatial resolution surface sensitive techniques that could lead to in situ visualization of reaction intermediates, and thus shed light on the reaction pathways that govern C3+ hydrocarbon formation. This will be realized using in situ surface-sensitive IR and Raman spectroscopy on copper nanoparticle (pure and alloys) electrodes.
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