skip to main content


Title: Efficient electrochemical CO 2 conversion powered by renewable energy

Here, the catalytic conversion of CO 2 into industrially relevant chemicals is one strategy for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Along these lines, electrochemical CO 2 conversion technologies are attractive because they can operate with high reaction rates at ambient conditions. However, electrochemical systems require electricity, and CO 2 conversion processes must integrate with carbon-free, renewable-energy sources to be viable on larger scales. We utilize Au 25 nanoclusters as renewably powered CO 2 conversion electrocatalysts with CO 2 → CO reaction rates between 400 and 800 L of CO 2 per gram of catalytic metal per hour and product selectivities between 80 and 95%. These performance metrics correspond to conversion rates approaching 0.8–1.6 kg of CO 2 per gram of catalytic metal per hour. We also present data showing CO 2 conversion rates and product selectivity strongly depend on catalyst loading. Optimized systems demonstrate stable operation and reaction turnover numbers (TONs) approaching 6 × 10 6 mol CO 2 molcatalyst–1 during a multiday (36 hours total hours) CO 2electrolysis experiment containing multiple start/stop cycles. TONs between 1 × 10 6 and 4 × 10 6 molCO 2 molcatalyst–1 were obtained when our system was powered by consumer-grade renewable-energy sources. Daytime photovoltaic-poweredmore » CO 2 conversion was demonstrated for 12 h and we mimicked low-light or nighttime operation for 24 h with a solar-rechargeable battery. This proof-of-principle study provides some of the initial performance data necessary for assessing the scalability and technical viability of electrochemical CO 2 conversion technologies. Specifically, we show the following: (1) all electrochemical CO 2 conversion systems will produce a net increase in CO 2 emissions if they do not integrate with renewable-energy sources, (2) catalyst loading vs activity trends can be used to tune process rates and product distributions, and (3) state-of-the-art renewable-energy technologies are sufficient to power larger-scale, tonne per day CO 2 conversion systems.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2]
  1. National Energy Technology Lab. (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, (United States)
  2. Carnegie Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1944-8244
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal Issue: 28; Journal ID: ISSN 1944-8244
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
National Energy Technology Lab. (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Fossil Energy (FE)
Country of Publication:
United States
30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; electrocatalysis; CO2 conversion; gold nanomaterials; renewable energy; catalysis; environmental
OSTI Identifier: