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Performance enhancement of a polymer-electrolyte membrane H2O and CO2 co-electrolysis system for the production of syngas

Abstract

Co-electrolysis of water and CO2 to produce hydrogen and CO would provide an alternative pathway to making chemicals and fuels. The process could provide a way to use excess renewable electricity, or could be coupled to nuclear or carbon-based power generation. Opus 12 has overcome barriers to using a proton exchange membrane (PEM) reactor for this reaction by modifying the cathode catalyst layer to enhance simultaneous electrochemical H2 production and CO2 reduction. Current reactor performance metrics in terms of selectivity, current density, and applied voltage meet or exceed internal targets. However, the cell lifetime must be extended for a commercial product to be feasible. Through this H2@Scale project, we propose to work with the Weber Group at LBNL to diagnose performance decay mechanisms that currently limit the lifetime of the electrochemical syngas generator. LBNL is host to a number of advanced PEM diagnostic tools and lab scientists have unique experience in exploring performance and lifetime tradeoffs at the component to cell scales. Using the results of this study, the identified limiting mechanisms will be mitigated through improved cell and catalyst design.

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