Electrochemical conversion of CO2 to formic acid at elevated temepratures

November 2021 – October 2025
One of the greatest challenges faced by our current generation is lowering the concentration of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and reducing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The electrochemical CO2 reduction (ECR) provides a solution to this problem by utilizing CO2 in combination with renewable energy and convert it to valuable chemicals (here formic acid, FA). However, to make the process more rapidly industrially feasible it would be beneficial to replace the anodic oxygen evolution reaction at the counter electrode with an economically more interesting one, like alkane dehydrogenation. This reaction, however, requires elevated temperatures, up to 100°C, which signifies that the cathodic CO2 reduction should also operate efficiently at these temperatures. Unfortunately, little is known on the effect of elevated temperatures on the overall performance of CO2 reducing electrolyzers and especially electrocatalysts. The goal of this project is thus to develop SnO2-based electrocatalysts that allow high and stable ECR performance to FA at elevated temperatures by utilizing advanced carbon supports. High-end electrochemistry and physicochemical characterizations will be used to obtain an in-depth knowledge about the interactions between support and SnO2 and reveal the impact of the support on the degradation mechanisms at high temperatures in order to reduce them to a minimum. Achieving this will allow the ECR to be coupled with alkane dehydrogenation in a co-electrolysis setup.