- Matthew Neurock, The University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
The direct catalytic conversion of CO2 to CO or formic acid and their subsequent transformation to fuelsand chemical intermediates offers one potentially attractive route toward the development of carbon-neutral sustainable strategies to meet increasing energy demands. Nature caries out these transformations quite exquisitely and can be used guide the development of heterogeneous electrocatalytic systems. Herein we examine the coupling of non-noble metal catalyst together with ionic liquids to carry out these reactions with high current densities and Faradaic efficiencies. Novel potential-dependent ab initio methods were used to explore these systems in detail and compare with experimental results. The metal and electrolyte are manipulated to control the selective formation to CO or formic acid. The active sites and the local solution environment that forms upon cathodic polarization resemble those present in enzymes. The results present unique insights into the mechanisms involved in the controlling proton and electron transfer steps and suggest novel ways to potentially engineer the catalyst and its environment. Finally we discuss the application of MXenes together with IL and other electrolytes in carrying out similar electrocatalytic reactions.