Cyclic two-step electrolysis for stable electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide to formate

Chan Woo Lee, Nam Heon Cho, Ki Tae Nam, Yun Jeong Hwang, Byoung Koun Min

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Pd metal and Pd-based alloys are ideal catalysts that allow for the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to HCOO at almost zero-overpotential with high selectivity, but catalyst degradation caused by concurrent CO poisoning limits their practical implementation. Here, we demonstrate that cyclic two-step electrolysis, by applying the reduction and oxidation potentials alternately, achieves 100% current density stability and 97.8% selectivity toward HCOO production for at least 45 h. The key idea for achieving the reliability is based on the selective removal of CO by controlling the parameters during the oxidation step, which utilizes the different reversibility of HCOO and CO production reactions. Furthermore, it is found that potentiostatic electrolysis causes CO adsorption and subsequent dehydridation, which in turn lowers HCOO selectivity. Our work provides a system-level strategy for solving the poisoning issue that is inevitable in many electrocatalytic reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3919
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the KIST-SNU Joint Research Lab project (2V06170) under the KIST Institutional Program funded by the Korea government (Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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