Publication date: Mar 31, 2023
Seven imidazolium-based ionic liquids (ILs) with different anions and cations were investigated as catholytes for the CO₂ electrocatalytic reduction to CO over silver. A significant activity and stability, but different selectivities for CO₂ reduction or the side H₂ evolution were observed. Density functional theory results show that the role of the IL anions is to tune the ratio between the CO₂ captured and electrochemically converted. Acetate anions (being strong Lewis bases) are more prone to CO₂ capture, enhancing H₂ evolution, while fluorinated anions (being weaker Lewis bases) favour the CO₂ electroreduction. Differently from the hydrolytically unstable 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate, 1-Butyl-3-Methylimidazolium Triflate was the most promising IL showing the highest Faradaic efficiency to CO (>95%), up to 8h of stable operation at high current rates (-20mA & -60 mA). These results open the way for a strategic selection of the most suitable IL for the CO₂ electroreduction and its future process scale-up.
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