Tailoring gas-phase CO2 electroreduction selectivity to hydrocarbons at Cu nanoparticles
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Copper-based surfaces appear as the most active catalysts for CO2 electroreduction to hydrocarbons, even though formation rates and efficiencies still need to be improved. The aim of the present work is to evaluate the continuous gas-phase CO2 electroreduction to hydrocarbons (i.e. ethylene and methane) at copper nanoparticulated-based surfaces, paying attention to particle size influence (ranging from 25–80 nm) on reaction productivity, selectivity, and Faraday efficiency (FE) for CO2conversion. The effect of the current density and the presence of a microporous layer within the working electrode are then evaluated. Copper-based gas diffusion electrodes are prepared by airbrushing the catalytic ink onto carbon supports, which are then coupled to a cation exchange membrane (Nafion) in a membrane electrode assembly. The results show that the use of smaller copper nanoparticles (25 nm) leads to a higher ethylene production (1148 μmol m−2 s−1) with a remarkable high FE (92.8%), at the same time, diminishing the competitive hydrogen evolution reaction in terms of FE. This work demonstrates the importance of nanoparticle size on reaction selectivity, which may be of help to design enhanced electrocatalytic materials for CO2 valorization to hydrocarbons.