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Explaining the Incorporation of Oxygen Derived from Solvent Water into the Oxygenated Products of CO Reduction over Cu.


The electrochemical reduction of CO and CO2 over Cu produces a variety of multicarbon products. Interestingly, recent isotope experiments have suggested that the oxygen atoms contained in the multicarbon alcohols produced over Cu are derived from solvent water. This observation has brought into question many of the proposed reaction mechanisms by which these multicarbon alcohols are produced over Cu. However, these surprising experimental observations are likely the result of isotopic scrambling between transiently produced carbonyl-containing intermediate reaction products, such as acetaldehyde, with solvent water and not another mechanism. The existence of such carbonyl-containing intermediate reaction products is supported by both experimental and theoretical studies. Furthermore, theoretical calculations support the notion that the reversible hydration of these carbonyl-containing species is facile in the vicinity of the Cu surface.

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