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Coupled Metal/Oxide Catalysts with Tunable Product Selectivity for Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction

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journal contribution
posted on 08.08.2017, 00:00 by Shengjuan Huo, Zhe Weng, Zishan Wu, Yiren Zhong, Yueshen Wu, Jianhui Fang, Hailiang Wang
One major challenge to the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to useful fuels and chemical products is the lack of efficient catalysts that can selectively direct the reaction to one desirable product and avoid the other possible side products. Making use of strong metal/oxide interactions has recently been demonstrated to be effective in enhancing electrocatalysis in the liquid phase. Here, we report one of the first systematic studies on composition-dependent influences of metal/oxide interactions on electrocatalytic CO2 reduction, utilizing Cu/SnOx heterostructured nanoparticles supported on carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as a model catalyst system. By adjusting the Cu/Sn ratio in the catalyst material structure, we can tune the products of the CO2 electrocatalytic reduction reaction from hydrocarbon-favorable to CO-selective to formic acid-dominant. In the Cu-rich regime, SnOx dramatically alters the catalytic behavior of Cu. The Cu/SnOx–CNT catalyst containing 6.2% of SnOx converts CO2 to CO with a high faradaic efficiency (FE) of 89% and a jCO of 11.3 mA·cm–2 at −0.99 V versus reversible hydrogen electrode, in stark contrast to the Cu–CNT catalyst on which ethylene and methane are the main products for CO2 reduction. In the Sn-rich regime, Cu modifies the catalytic properties of SnOx. The Cu/SnOx–CNT catalyst containing 30.2% of SnOx reduces CO2 to formic acid with an FE of 77% and a jHCOOH of 4.0 mA·cm–2 at −0.99 V, outperforming the SnOx–CNT catalyst which only converts CO2 to formic acid in an FE of 48%.