Chinese Journal of Catalysis ›› 2023, Vol. 52: 187-195.DOI: 10.1016/S1872-2067(23)64508-5

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Steering electrochemical carbon dioxide reduction to alcohol production on Cu step sites

Hui Gaoa,b,1, Gong Zhanga,b,1, Dongfang Chenga,b, Yongtao Wanga,b, Jing Zhaoa,b, Xiaozhi Lia,b, Xiaowei Dua,b, Zhi-Jian Zhaoa,b,d,e, Tuo Wanga,b,c,d, Peng Zhanga,b,d,e,*(), Jinlong Gonga,b,c,d   

  1. aKey Laboratory for Green Chemical Technology of Ministry of Education, School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
    bCollaborative Innovation Center of Chemical Science and Engineering (Tianjin), Tianjin 300072, China
    cHaihe Laboratory of Sustainable Chemical Transformations, Tianjin 300192, China
    dNational Industry-Education Platform of Energy Storage, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300350, China
    eJoint School of National University of Singapore and Tianjin University, International Campus of Tianjin University, Binhai New City, Fuzhou 350207, Fujian, China
  • Received:2023-05-27 Accepted:2023-08-16 Online:2023-09-18 Published:2023-09-25
  • Contact: *E-mail: (P. Zhang).
  • About author:1Contributed equally to this work.
  • Supported by:
    National Key R&D Program of China(2021YFA1501503);National Natural Science Foundation of China(22121004);National Natural Science Foundation of China(22108197);Haihe Laboratory of Sustainable Chemical Transformations(CYZC202107);Natural Science Foundation of Tianjin City(21JCZXJC00060);Introducing Talents of Discipline to Universities(BP0618007);TianHe Qingsuo Open Research Fund of TSYS in 2022 & NSCC-TJ;Xplorer Prize


Electrochemical CO2 reduction is a sustainable method for producing multicarbon alcohols. However, the selectivity of alcohols is limited owing to the favorable side reaction to convert the key intermediate of *CH2CHO into ethylene. This study describes the design of a Cu electrocatalyst with abundant step sites to suppress the deoxygenation of *CH2CHO to ethylene, thereby promoting alcohol production. A Faradic efficiency of 40.5% and partial current density of 56.3 mA/cm2 for alcohols are achieved. Moreover, the alcohols/C2H4 ratio in the products reaches approximately 2.2. In-situ infrared spectrum characterizations and theoretical calculations reveal that the step sites facilitate C-C coupling and direct the reaction pathway to promote the formation of alcohols by inhibiting the cleavage of the C-O bond in *CH2CHO. Therefore, the proposed strategy is efficient for designing active sites to steer reaction pathways in CO2 electroreductions and produce alcohols.

Key words: Electrocatalysis, CO2 reduction, Copper, Step sites, Alcohol