Chinese Journal of Catalysis

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Electrocatalytic generation of hydrogen peroxide on cobalt nanoparticles embedded in nitrogen-doped carbon

Basil Sabri Rawaha,b, Li Wenzhena,*   

  1. aChemical and Biological Engineering Department, Biorenewables Research Laboratory, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA;
    bChemical and Biological Engineering Department, University of Jeddah, Jeddah 23890, Saudi Arabia
  • Received:2021-01-14 Revised:2021-01-14 Online:2021-04-25 Published:2021-04-25
  • Contact: * Tel: +1-515-294-4582; E-mail:

Abstract: Electrocatalytic reduction of oxygen is a growing synthetic technique for the sustainable production of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The current challenges concern seeking low-cost, highly active, and selective electrocatalysts. Nitrogen-doped carbon featuring catalytically active cobalt-nitrogen (Co-Nx) sites is an emerging class of materials that can promote the electrochemical generation of H2O2. Here, we report a straightforward method for the preparation of cobalt-nitrogen-doped carbon composed of a number of Co-Nx moieties using low-energy dry-state ball milling, followed by controlled pyrolysis. This scalable method uses inexpensive materials containing cobalt acetate, 2-methylimidazole, and Ketjenblack EC-600JD as the metal, nitrogen, and carbon precursors, respectively. Electrochemical measurements in an acidic medium show the present material exhibits a significant increase in the oxygen reduction reaction current density, accompanied by shifting the onset potential into the positive direction. The current catalyst has also demonstrated an approximate 90 % selectivity towards H2O2 across a wide range of potential. The H2O2 production rate, as measured by H2O2 bulk electrolysis, has reached 100 mmol gcat.-1 h-1 with high H2O2 faradaic efficiency close to 85% (for 2 h at 0.3 V vs. RHE). Lastly, the catalyst durability has been tested (for 6 h at 0.3 V vs. RHE). The catalyst has shown relatively consistent performance, while the overall faradic efficiency reaches approximate 85% throughout the test cycle indicating the promising catalyst durability for practical applications. The formed Co-Nx moieties, along with other parameters, including the acidic environment and the applied potential, likely are the primary reasons for such high activity and selectivity to H2O2 production.

Key words: Hydrogen peroxide, Two-electron oxygen reduction, Carbon catalyst, Electrocatalysis