Acta Physico-Chimica Sinica ›› 2020, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (1): 1906085.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201906085

Special Issue: Special Issue in Honor of Academician Youqi Tang on the Occasion of His 100th Birthday

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Progress in the Mechanisms and Materials for CO2 Electroreduction toward C2+ Products

Yan Yang1,2,Yun Zhang1,Jin-Song Hu1,2,*(),Li-Jun Wan1   

  1. 1 Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences (BNLMS), CAS Key Laboratory of Molecular Nanostructure and Nanotechnology, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, P. R. China
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, P. R. China
  • Received:2019-06-27 Accepted:2019-08-22 Published:2019-09-02
  • Contact: Jin-Song Hu
  • Supported by:
    the National Key Research and Development Program of China(2016YFB0101202);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(21773263);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(91645123)


Over the past decades, advances in science and technology have greatly benefitted the society. However, the exploitation of fossil fuels and excessive emissions of polluting gases have disturbed the balance of the normal carbon cycle, causing serious environmental issues and energy crises. Global warming caused by heavy CO2 emissions is driving new attempts to mitigate the increase in the concentration of atmospheric CO2. Significant efforts have been devoted for CO2 conversion. To date, the electroreduction of CO2, which is highly efficient and offers a promising strategy for both storing energy and managing the global carbon balance, has attracted great attention. In addition, the electrosynthesis of value-added C2+ products from CO2 addresses the need for the long-term storage of renewable energy. Therefore, developing catalysts that function under ambient conditions to produce C2 selectively over C1 products will increase the utility of renewable feedstocks in industrial chemistry applications. Recently, great progress has been made in the development of materials for electrocatalytic CO2 reduction (ECR) toward C2+ products; however, some issues (e.g., low selectivity, low current efficiency, and poor durability) remain to be addressed. In addition, the elementary reaction mechanism of each C2+ product remains unclear, contributing to the blindness of catalyst design. In this regard, the development of proposed mechanisms of ECR toward C2+ products is summarized herein. The key to generating C2+ products is improving the chances of C―C coupling. Test conditions significantly influence the reaction path of the catalyst. Thus, three different paths that that are most likely to occur during ECR to C2+ products are proposed, including the CO, CO-COH, and CO-CO paths. In addition, typical material regulatory strategies and technical designs for ECR toward C2+ products (e.g. crystal facet modulation, defect engineering, size effect, confinement effects, electrolyzer design, and electrolyte pH) are introduced, focusing on their effects on the selectivity, current efficiency, and durability. The four strategies for catalyst design (crystal facet modulation, defect engineering, size effect, and confinement effect) primarily affect the selectivity of the ECR via adjustment of the adsorption of reaction intermediates. The last two strategies for technique design (electrolyzer design and electrolyte pH) contributing greatly toward improving the current efficiency than selectivity. Finally, the challenges and perspectives for ECR toward C2+ products and their future prospects are discussed herein. Therefore, breakthroughs in the promising field of ECR toward the generation of C2+ products are possible when these catalyst design strategies and mechanisms are applied and novel designs are developed.

Key words: CO2 electroreduction, High value-added product, Selectivity, Faradaic efficiency, Durability


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