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Open Access Electrochemical CO2 Reduction – A Critical View on Fundamentals, Materials and Applications

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The electrochemical reduction of CO2 has been extensively studied over the past decades. Nevertheless, this topic has been tackled so far only by using a very fundamental approach and mostly by trying to improve kinetics and selectivities toward specific products in half-cell configurations and liquid-based electrolytes. The main drawback of this approach is that, due to the low solubility of CO2 in water, the maximum CO2 reduction current which could be drawn falls in the range of 0.01–0.02 A cm–2. This is at least an order of magnitude lower current density than the requirement to make CO2-electrolysis a technically and economically feasible option for transformation of CO2 into chemical feedstock or fuel thereby closing the CO2 cycle. This work attempts to give a short overview on the status of electrochemical CO2 reduction with respect to challenges at the electrolysis cell as well as at the catalyst level. We will critically discuss possible pathways to increase both operating current density and conversion efficiency in order to close the gap with established energy conversion technologies.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Electrochemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland. [email protected] 2: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Freiestrasse 3, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland; A.N. Frumkin Institute of Physical Chemistry and Electrochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskii pr. 31, Moscow 119991, Russia. [email protected] 3: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Bern, Freiestrasse 3, CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland 4: Electrochemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland 5: Electrochemistry Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerland; Laboratory of Physical Chemistry, ETH Zürich, 8093 Zürich, Switzerland

Publication date: December 1, 2015

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  • International Journal for Chemistry and Official Membership Journal of the Swiss Chemical Society (SCS) and its Divisions

    CHIMIA, a scientific journal for chemistry in the broadest sense, is published 10 times a year and covers the interests of a wide and diverse readership. Contributions from all fields of chemistry and related areas are considered for publication in the form of Review Articles and Notes. A characteristic feature of CHIMIA are the thematic issues, each devoted to an area of great current significance.

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