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The Conventional Gas Diffusion Electrode May Not Be Resistant to Flooding during CO2/CO Reduction...

by Xiang Lyu
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Journal Name
Journal of the Electrochemical Society
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The electrochemical CO2 or CO reduction to chemicals and fuels using renewable energy is a promising way to reduce anthropogenic carbon emissions. The gas diffusion electrode (GDE) design enables low-carbon manufacturing of target products at a current density (e.g., 500 mA cm−2) relevant to industrial requirements. However, the long-term stability of the GDE is restricted by poor water management and flooding, resulting in a significant hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) within almost an hour. The optimization of water management in the GDE demands a thorough understanding of the role of the gas diffusion layer (GDL) and the catalyst layer (CL) distinctively. Herein, the hydrophobicity of the GDL and CL is independently adjusted to investigate their influence on gas transport efficiency and water management. The gas transport efficiency is more enhanced with the increase in hydrophobicity of the GDL than the CL. Direct visualization of water distribution by optical microscope and micro-computed tomography demonstrates that the water flow pattern transfers from the stable displacement to capillary fingering as GDL hydrophobicity increases. Unfortunately, only increasing the hydrophobicity is not sufficient to prevent flooding. A revolutionary change in the design of the GDE structure is essential to maintain the long-term stability of CO2/CO reduction.