American Chemical Society
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Electrochemical Dehydrogenation of Ethane to Ethylene in a Solid Oxide Electrolyzer

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-02-27, 22:48 authored by Xirui Zhang, Lingting Ye, Hao Li, Fanglin Chen, Kui Xie
The conversion of ethane, a main component of natural gas, to ethylene feed stock has attracted widespread attention since the worldwide shale gas revolution. Thermal catalysis of ethane to ethylene, mainly oxidative dehydrogenation, faces the fundamental challenge of low conversion, low selectivity, and catalyst coking. This work demonstrates an efficient conversion of ethane to ethylene in a nonoxidative dehydrogenation process in a proton-conducting solid oxide electrolyzer at ambient pressure and 700 °C. We show the highest ethane conversion of 75.2% and ∼100% ethylene selectivity even only at 0.8 V in this electrochemical catalysis process. The electrochemical pumping of protons at anode with active exsolved metal–oxide interfaces enhances anode activity, while the metal–oxide interface interactions further engineer the ethane conversion in the electrochemical dehydrogenation process. We exsolve metal–oxide interface architecture at nanoscale on the electrode scaffold to improve coking resistance and catalyst stability. We further present the reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide in the cathode combined with ethane conversion in the anode, and we show the higher performance of ethane conversion in the anode with syngas production in the cathode. The electrochemical dehydrogenation process would provide an alternative method for the petrochemical production and a thermochemical practice in a clean energy mode.