Objectives

Low temperature electrochemical utilization of CO2 has been studied for more than 60 years with two main approaches, one being the conversion of CO2 in aqueous solution, the other being in non-aqueous solutions. For aqueous conversion, formic acid is the main reaction product, whilst non-aqueous solutions favour hydrocarbons. Yet both concepts suffer from major shortcomings meaning that this valuable idea never has made it to an industrially significant level. The weaknesses of aqueous solutions are i) a competitive hydrogen evolution process ii) a small potential window, iii) low CO2 solubility, iv) just delivering formic acid as major product. The disadvantages of non-aqueous solutions are i) low electrolytic conductivity, ii) costs, iii) environmental impact, and iv) catalyst stability in these solutions. Gas phase electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 would overcome these problems and allow the formation of more valuable products; in this project the primary focus will be on methanol. Previously the partners have proven that a PEM–co-electrolysis cell has significant potential for the gas phase electroreduction of CO2 with water as a proton source. This approach not only overcomes the shortcomings of the aqueous and non-aqueous solutions, but also removes the need for the use of hydrogen gas for CO2 reduction to hydrocarbons. By employing effectively designed materials and components to improve the efficiency and selectivity of the system, this project will demonstrate the industrial potential of the concept.

Research and Innovation Action (RIA) Cost-effective materials for “power-to-chemical” technologies [761093]

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