An analytical multiphase flow model for parallel plate electrolyzers

Membraneless parallel-plate electrolyzers use electrolyte flow to avoid product crossover. Using a mixture model neglecting inertia, and assuming an exponential gas fraction profile, we derive approximate analytical expressions for the velocity profile and pressure drop for thin plumes. We verify these expressions using numerical solutions obtained with COMSOL and validate them using experimental data from the literature. We find that the wall gas fraction increases rapidly at small heights, but becomes fairly constant at larger heights. These expressions serve as a guiding framework for designing a membraneless parallel-plate electrolyzer by quantifying the maximum possible height. We find that buoyancy driven membraneless parallel-plate electrolyzers with a 3 mm gap can be designed with a maximum height of around 7.6 cm at 1000 A/m2 for operation with 98% product purity at atmospheric pressure. For a forced flow at Re=1000, the same electrolyzer can be made around 17.6 cm tall at 1000 A/m2. These limits can be further improved with smaller bubbles or higher pressure.

A. Rajora and J.W. Haverkort

Energy comparison of sequential and integrated CO2 capture and electrochemical conversion

Integrating carbon dioxide (CO2) electrolysis with CO2 capture provides exciting new opportunities for energy reductions by simultaneously removing the energy-demanding regeneration step in CO2 capture and avoiding critical issues faced by CO2 gas-fed electrolysers. However, understanding the potential energy advantages of an integrated process is not straightforward due to the interconnected processes which require knowledge of both capture and electrochemical conversion processes. Here, we identify the upper limits of the integrated process from an energy perspective by comparing the working principles and performance of integrated and sequential approaches. Our high-level energy analyses unveil that an integrated electrolyser must show similar performance to the gas-fed electrolyser to ensure an energy benefit of up to 44% versus the sequential route. However, such energy benefits diminish if future gas-fed electrolysers resolve the CO2 utilisation issue and if an integrated electrolyser shows lower conversion efficiencies than the gas-fed system.

Mengran Li, Erdem Irtem, Hugo-Pieter Iglesias van Montfort, Maryam Abdinejad & Thomas Burdyny

Electrochemical Reduction of CO2 in Tubular Flow Cells under Gas–Liquid Taylor Flow

Electrochemical reduction of COusing renewable energy is a promising avenue for sustainable production of bulk chemicals. However, COelectrolysis in aqueous systems is severely limited by mass transfer, leading to low reactor performance insufficient for industrial application. This paper shows that structured reactors operated under gas–liquid Taylor flow can overcome these limitations and significantly improve the reactor performance. This is achieved by reducing the boundary layer for mass transfer to the thin liquid film between the CO2 bubbles and the electrode. This work aims to understand the relationship between process conditions, mass transfer, and reactor performance by developing an easy-to-use analytical model. We find that the film thickness and the volume ratio of CO2/electrolyte fed to the reactor significantly affect the current density and the faradaic efficiency. Additionally, we find industrially relevant performance when operating the reactor at an elevated pressure beyond 5 bar. We compare our predictions with numerical simulations based on the unit cell approach, showing good agreement for a large window of operating parameters, illustrating when the easy-to-use predictive expressions for the current density and faradaic efficiency can be applied.

Isabell Bagemihl, Chaitanya Bhatraju, J. Ruud van Ommen and Volkert van Steijn

Ultrasound-promoted preparation of polyvinyl ferrocene-based electrodes for selective formate separation: Experimental design and optimization

The selective separation of ions is a major technological challenge having far-ranging impacts from product separation in electrochemical production of base chemicals from CO2 to water purification. In recent years, ion-selective electrochemical systems leveraging redox-materials emerged as an attractive platform based on their reversibility and remarkable ion selectivity. In the present study, we present an ultrasound-intensified fabrication process for polyvinyl ferrocene (PVF)–functionalized electrodes in a carbon nanotube (CNT) matrix for selective electro-adsorption of formate ions. To this end, a response surface methodology involving the Box–Behnken design with three effective independent variables, namely, PVF to CNT ratio, sonication duration, and ultrasonic amplitude was applied to reach the maximum formate adsorption efficiency. The fabricated electrodes were characterized using cyclic voltammetry.

Sevgi Polat, Ruud Kortlever, Huseyin Burak Eral

Surface Coverage as an Important Parameter for Predicting Selectivity Trends in Electrochemical CO2 Reduction

The electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) is important for a sustainable future. Key insights into the reaction pathways have been obtained by density functional theory (DFT) analysis, but so far, DFT has been unable to give an overall understanding of selectivity trends without important caveats. We show that an unconsidered parameter in DFT models of electrocatalysts─the surface coverage of reacting species─is crucial for understanding the CO2RR selectivities for different surfaces. Surface coverage is a parameter that must be assumed in most DFT studies of CO2RR electrocatalysts, but so far, only the coverage of nonreacting adsorbates has been treated. Explicitly treating the surface coverage of reacting adsorbates allows for an investigation that can more closely mimic operating conditions. Furthermore, and of more immediate importance, the use of surface coverage-dependent adsorption energies allows for the extraction of ratios of adsorption energies of CO2RR intermediates (COOHads and HCOOads) that are shown to be predictive of selectivity and are not susceptible to systematic errors. This approach allows for categorization of the selectivity of several monometallic catalysts (Pt, Pd, Au, Ag, Zn, Cu, Rh, W, Pb, Sn, In, Cd, and Tl), even problematic ones such as Ag or Zn, and does so by only considering the adsorption energies of known intermediates. The selectivity of the further reduction of COOHads can now be explained by a preference for Tafel or Heyrovsky reactions, recontextualizing the nature of selectivity of some catalysts. In summary, this work resolves differences between DFT and experimental studies of the CO2RR and underlines the importance of surface coverage.

Andrew R. T. Morrison, Mahinder Ramdin, Leo J. P. van der Broeke, Wiebren de Jong, Thijs J. H. Vlugt, and Ruud Kortlever

Benchmarking the Electrochemical CO2 Reduction on Polycrystalline Copper Foils: The Importance of Microstructure Versus Applied Potential

Copper is one of the most promising catalysts for the CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) due to its unique capability of producing multicarbon products in appreciable quantities. Most of the CO2RR research efforts have been directed towards the development of new electrocatalysts to either increase product selectivities or decrease overpotentials. In contrast, only a few studies have systematically tested or benchmarked CO2RR performances of electrocatalysts. In this paper, for the first time, the performances of five different polycrystalline copper foils purchased from different suppliers are benchmarked for their CO2RR performance. Their differences are characterized in terms of microstructural features and the effect that these microstructural properties have on the electrocatalytic behavior during potentiostatic CO2RR experiments are evaluated. It is shown that the potential applied is the dominant factor controlling CO2RR selectivities, leading to the conclusion that microstructural properties of polycrystalline copper electrodes have a negligible effect on the outcome of CO2RR experiments.

Simone Asperti, Dr. Ruud Hendrikx, Dr. Yaiza Gonzalez-Garcia, Dr. Ruud Kortlever

Mapping Spatial and Temporal Electrochemical Activity of Water and CO2 Electrolysis on Gas-Diffusion Electrodes Using Infrared Thermography

Electrolysis of water, CO2, and nitrogen-based compounds presents the opportunity of generating fossil-free fuels and feedstocks at an industrial scale. Such devices are complex in operation, and their performance metrics are usually reported as electrode-averaged quantities. In this work, we report the usage of infrared thermography to map the electrochemical activity of a gas-diffusion electrode performing water and CO2 reduction. By associating the heat map to a characteristic catalytic activity, the presented system can capture electrochemical and physical phenomena as they occur in electrolyzers for large-scale energy applications. We demonstrate applications for catalyst screening, catalyst-degradation measurements, and spatial activity mapping for water and CO2 electrolysis at current densities up to 0.2 A cm–2. At these current densities we report catalyst temperature increases (>10 K for 0.2 A cm–2) not apparent otherwise. Furthermore, substantial localized current density fluctuations are present. These observations challenge assumed local conditions, providing new fundamental and applied perspectives.

Hugo-Pieter Iglesias van Montfort and Thomas Burdyny

CO2 Electrolysis via Surface-Engineering Electrografted Pyridines on Silver Catalysts

The electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) to value-added materials has received considerable attention. Both bulk transition-metal catalysts and molecular catalysts affixed to conductive noncatalytic solid supports represent a promising approach toward the electroreduction of CO2. Here, we report a combined silver (Ag) and pyridine catalyst through a one-pot and irreversible electrografting process, which demonstrates the enhanced CO2 conversion versus individual counterparts. We find that by tailoring the pyridine carbon chain length, a 200 mV shift in the onset potential is obtainable compared to the bare silver electrode. A 10-fold activity enhancement at −0.7 V vs reversible hydrogen electrode (RHE) is then observed with demonstratable higher partial current densities for CO, indicating that a cocatalytic effect is attainable through the integration of the two different catalytic structures. We extended the performance to a flow cell operating at 150 mA/cm2, demonstrating the approach’s potential for substantial adaptation with various transition metals as supports and electrografted molecular cocatalysts.

Maryam Abdinejad, Erdem Irtem, Amirhossein Farzi, Mark Sassenburg, Siddhartha Subramanian, Hugo-Pieter Iglesias van Montfort, Davide Ripepi, Mengran Li, Joost Middelkoop, Ali Seifitokaldani and Thomas Burdyny

Earlier Publications

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