Electrochemical CO2 reduction is a critical approach to reducing the globally accelerating CO2 emission and generating value-added products. Despite great efforts to optimize catalyst activity and selectivity, facilitating the catalyst accessibility to high CO2 concentrations while maintaining electrode durability remains a significant challenge. Here, we designed a catalytic system that mimics the alveolus structure in mammalian lungs with high gas permeability but very low water diffusibility, enabling an array of three-phase catalytic interfaces. Flexible, hydrophobic, nanoporous polyethylene membranes with high gas permeability were used to enable efficient CO2 access and a high local alkalinity on the catalyst surface at different CO2 flow rates. Such an alveolus-mimicking structure generates a high CO production Faradaic efficiency of 92% and excellent geometric current densities of CO production (25.5 mA cm−2) at −0.6 V versus the reversible hydrogen electrode, with a very thin catalyst thickness of 20−80 nm.
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This work was supported by the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under contract DEAC02-76-SF00515. The authors acknowledge the use and support of the Stanford Nano Shared Facilities and Stanford Nanofabrication Facility. The authors thank G. Zhou, Z. Lu, W. Chen and L. Cai for helpful discussions. J.L. thanks R. Brinks Lockwood for writing suggestions.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Supplementary Figures 1–22, Supplementary Tables 1–3, Supplementary Notes 1 & 2, Supplementary References
A movie of bilayer Au/PE membrane under an applied potential of –1.1 V in a CO2-saturated 0.5 M KHCO3 solution containing phenolphthalein. The Au-coated side of PE membrane was rolled to face inside, and the white colour of the pristine PE membrane was facing outwards
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Li, J., Chen, G., Zhu, Y. et al. Efficient electrocatalytic CO2 reduction on a three-phase interface. Nat Catal 1, 592–600 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-018-0108-3
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