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Production of C2/C3 Oxygenates from Planar Copper Nitride-Derived Mesoporous Copper via Electrochemical Reduction of CO2


Electrochemical reduction of CO2 provides an opportunity to produce fuels and chemicals in a carbon-neutral manner, assuming that CO2 can be captured from the atmosphere. To do so requires efficient, selective, and stable catalysts. In this study, we report a highly mesoporous metallic Cu catalyst prepared by electrochemical reduction of thermally nitrided Cu foil. Under aqueous saturated CO2 reduction conditions, the Cu3N-derived Cu electrocatalyst produces virtually no CH4, very little CO, and exhibits a faradaic efficiency of 68% in C2+ products (C2H4, C2H5OH, and C3H7OH) at a current density of ∼18.5 mA cm-2 and a cathode potential of -1.0 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode. Under these conditions, the catalyst produces more oxygenated products than hydrocarbons. We show that surface roughness is a good descriptor of catalytic performance. The roughest surface reached 98% CO utilization efficiency for C2+ product formation from CO2 reduction and the ratio of oxygenated to hydrocarbon products correlates with the degree of surface roughness. These effects of surface roughness are attributed to the high population of undercoordinated sites as well as a high pH environment within the mesopores and adjacent to the surface of the catalyst.

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