Solar-Driven Reduction of 1 atm of CO2 to Formate at 10% Energy-Conversion Efficiency by Use of a TiO2-Protected III-V Tandem Photoanode in Conjunction with a Bipolar Membrane and a Pd/C Cathode

Xinghao Zhou, Rui Liu, Ke Sun, Yikai Chen, Erik Verlage, Sonja A. Francis, Nathan S Lewis, Chengxiang Xiang

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A solar-driven CO2 reduction (CO2R) cell was constructed, consisting of a tandem GaAs/InGaP/TiO2/Ni photoanode in 1.0 M KOH(aq) (pH = 13.7) to facilitate the oxygen-evolution reaction (OER), a Pd/C nanoparticle-coated Ti mesh cathode in 2.8 M KHCO3(aq) (pH = 8.0) to perform the CO2R reaction, and a bipolar membrane to allow for steady-state operation of the catholyte and anolyte at different bulk pH values. At the operational current density of 8.5 mA cm-2, in 2.8 M KHCO3(aq), the cathode exhibited <100 mV overpotential and >94% Faradaic efficiency for the reduction of 1 atm of CO2(g) to formate. The anode exhibited a 320 ± 7 mV overpotential for the OER in 1.0 M KOH(aq), and the bipolar membrane exhibited ∼480 mV voltage loss with minimal product crossovers and >90 and >95% selectivity for protons and hydroxide ions, respectively. The bipolar membrane facilitated coupling between two electrodes and electrolytes, one for the CO2R reaction and one for the OER, that typically operate at mutually different pH values and produced a lower total cell overvoltage than known single-electrolyte CO2R systems while exhibiting ∼10% solar-to-fuels energy-conversion efficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-770
Number of pages7
JournalACS Energy Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 14 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Materials Chemistry

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