Toward a Stackable CO2-to-CO Electrolyzer Cell Design─Impact of Media Flow Optimization

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Abstract

Aqueous CO2-to-CO electrolysis is a promising technology for closing the carbon cycle and defossilizing industrial processes. Considering the technological readiness, consensus has been achieved about using silver as a stable and selective electrocatalyst for the CO2-to-CO reduction reaction in aqueous electrolyte. On the other hand, challenges such as media flow management, component stability, and force distribution are still associated with improving the process performance and developing a stackable cell concept to meet industrially relevant levels. We therefore report on a promising stack concept with continuous flowcells operated with gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs). To enhance the CO2-to-CO conversion efficiency, dedicated media flow chambers were developed on two levels. In the gas chamber, which touches the GDE from the far side of the anode, the feed gas flow and distribution over the GDE were controlled by introducing various gas path architectures in a modular flowcell. In addition, an ionically conductive spacer was implemented in the catholyte chamber, which is adjacent to the opposite side of the GDE. The effect of these modifications on the cell voltage, selectivity, and overall conversion was investigated at 100 mA/cm2 with varying CO2 feed gas flow and concentration. Noteworthy, an optimized feed gas distribution generated an increase of the Faraday efficiency for CO under reduced CO2 supply. Furthermore, the implementation of the spacer enhanced the process stability by suppressing gas-bubble-induced noise in the cell voltage measurements. By functioning as support structures to the GDE, the combined modifications provided the cell with mechanical integrity and allowed an ionic and electric contact over the full active cell area, which is required for both stacking and upscaling of the cell. The corresponding performance was demonstrated by a two-cell short-stack.

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Quentmeier, M., Schmid, B., Tempel, H., Kungl, H., & Eichel, R. A. (2023). Toward a Stackable CO2-to-CO Electrolyzer Cell Design─Impact of Media Flow Optimization. ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 11(2), 679–688. https://doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.2c05539

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