Inspenet, August 26, 2023.
This electrolyser opens new doors towards energy efficiency
Scientists at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Illinois at Chicago, have developed an electrolyzer that transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) in propane, presenting an approach that is expected to be both environmentally friendly and economically viable.
Despite recent advances in the electrocatalysis of CO 2 , the direct generation of C3+ molecules from CO 2 has presented difficulties due to high reaction barriers and competing reactions that tend to produce other products.
The team led by Esmaeilirad has created a catalyst system using Mo3P nanoparticles with functionalized imidazolium. This system has shown amazing efficiency, achieving a current density of -395 mA cm−2 and a Faradaic efficiency of 91% under specific conditions. This advance is attributed to imidazolium functionalization, which improves electrocatalytic properties and promotes propane production.
One of the outstanding results of the research is the crucial role that the ionomer coating plays in stabilizing the nanoparticles during long-term testing.
In order to understand the inner workings of this catalyst, the group of researchers merged experimental techniques and computational analysis. This union allowed the identification and understanding of the fundamental factors that influence the activity, selectivity and stability of the reaction.
An outstanding feature of this advance is the use of a flow electrolyser. Unlike traditional approaches that operate in cycles, this design allows for constant generation of propane , making it a promising alternative for industrial manufacturing.
This important research study has been financially supported by the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Advanced Research Energy Projects, and SHV Energy.