International Journal of Energy Research, Vol.44, No.1, 548-559, 2020
Electrochemical reduction of CO2: Two- or three-electrode configuration
Electrocatalytical conversion of CO2 into various chemicals like hydrocarbons and CO is regarded as a promising approach to mitigate carbon emission and, meanwhile, to provide sustainable energy and value-added chemicals. Two different reactors are used in this work. One is based upon the two-electrode configuration powered by a DC power supply or Si solar cell, which is suitable for practical applications. Another is three-electrode one powered by a potentiostat, which is feasible to study the electrode performance. Polycrystalline Cu electrode is used as the cathode, and hematite is the anode. Performance of CO2 reduction using the two- and three-electrode configurations is studied by measuring electrode potential, cell voltage, current density, Faradaic efficiency, and reduction selectivity of CO2. Cu cathode used here exhibits a low overpotential for CO2 reduction, specifically for the cell with two-electrode configuration. No obvious difference can be observed between the two types of configurations at a low bias like -0.3 and -0.4 V; while the reactor with two-electrode configuration exhibits better performance at a high bias like -0.8 V than the one with three-electrode configuration. Thus, the reactors with two-electrode configuration are desirable for practical applications, specifically considering solar cells can be used as the power source to provide green and sustainable energy.