Electrocatalytic conversion of carbon monoxide (CO) is being actively developed as a key component for tandem CO2 electrolysis. Great effort has been devoted to engineering CO reduction electrocatalysts for better multicarbon product selectivity. However, less work has focused on other performance parameters that are crucial for commercializing CO electrolysis, such as liquid product concentration and purity. Here, we present an internally coupled purification strategy to substantially improve the acetate concentration and purity in CO electrolysis. This strategy utilizes an alkaline-stable anion exchange membrane with high ethanol permeability and a selective ethanol partial oxidation anode to control the CO reduction product stream. We demonstrate stable 120-h continuous operation of the CO electrolyser at a current density of 200 mA cm−2 and a full-cell potential of <2.3 V, continuously producing a 1.9 M acetate product stream with a purity of 97.7%. The acetate stream was further improved to a concentration of 7.6 M at >99% purity by tuning the reaction conditions. Finally, a techno-economic analysis shows that a highly concentrated liquid product stream is essential to reduce the energy consumption of product separation.
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This material is based upon work supported by the US Department of Energy under Award Number DE-FE0031910.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Overa, S., Crandall, B.S., Shrimant, B. et al. Enhancing acetate selectivity by coupling anodic oxidation to carbon monoxide electroreduction. Nat Catal 5, 738–745 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-022-00828-w