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Continuous carbon capture in an electrochemical solid-electrolyte reactor


Electrochemical carbon-capture technologies, with renewable electricity as the energy input, are promising for carbon management but still suffer from low capture rates, oxygen sensitivity or system complexity1,2,3,4,5,6. Here we demonstrate a continuous electrochemical carbon-capture design by coupling oxygen/water (O2/H2O) redox couple with a modular solid-electrolyte reactor7. By performing oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER) redox electrolysis, our device can efficiently absorb dilute carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules at the high-alkaline cathode–membrane interface to form carbonate ions, followed by a neutralization process through the proton flux from the anode to continuously output a high-purity (>99%) CO2 stream from the middle solid-electrolyte layer. No chemical inputs were needed nor side products generated during the whole carbon absorption/release process. High carbon-capture rates (440 mA cm−2, 0.137 mmolCO2 min−1 cm−2 or 86.7 kgCO2 day−1 m−2), high Faradaic efficiencies (>90% based on carbonate), high carbon-removal efficiency (>98%) in simulated flue gas and low energy consumption (starting from about 150 kJ per molCO2) were demonstrated in our carbon-capture solid-electrolyte reactor, suggesting promising practical applications.

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Fig. 1: Our solid-electrolyte reactor design for carbon capture from different CO2 sources.
Fig. 2: Concept verification and performance evaluation of carbon capture in our solid-electrolyte reactor using standard Pt/C and IrO2 catalysts.
Fig. 3: Carbon-capture evaluation using Co-SAC.
Fig. 4: Possible approaches to improving carbon-capture energy efficiencies.

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Data availability

The data that support the plots in this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on request.


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This work was supported by Rice University, NSF (grant no. 2029442), the Robert A. Welch Foundation (grant no. C-2051-20200401) and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (grant no. 2020-71371). This work was performed in part at the Shared Equipment Authority (SEA) at Rice University. The EXAFS data were collected at the SXRMB beamline at the Canadian Light Source, a national research facility of the University of Saskatchewan, which is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the National Research Council (NRC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Government of Saskatchewan and the University of Saskatchewan.

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Authors and Affiliations



H.W. supervised the project. H.W. and P.Z. designed the reactor system. Z.-Y.W. and P.Z. developed and performed catalyst synthesis. P.Z., C.D., A.E., Y.F., Z.F. and J.Y.(T.)K. conducted the electrochemical tests and related data processing. P.Z., F.-Y.C., A.E., M.S., Y.X. and T.-U.W. carried out materials characterization. P.Z., Z.-Y.W, A.E., T.A.H. and H.W. wrote the manuscript, with input from all authors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Haotian Wang.

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Competing interests

P.Z., J.Y.(T.)K. and H.W. are the inventors listed on a US patent application based on this study by Rice University.

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Nature thanks Ian Sullivan, Ajayan Vinu and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Discussions 1–4, Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, Supplementary Figs. 1–43 and Supplementary References—see contents page for details

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Zhu, P., Wu, ZY., Elgazzar, A. et al. Continuous carbon capture in an electrochemical solid-electrolyte reactor. Nature 618, 959–966 (2023).

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