Optimising the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to oxalic acid in propylene carbonate

Sale, H., Ubbara, G. R. and Symes, M. D. (2023) Optimising the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to oxalic acid in propylene carbonate. Sustainable Energy and Fuels, (doi: 10.1039/D3SE00652B)

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Carbon dioxide (captured from the atmosphere or obtained by other routes) constitutes a useful and widely-available building block for producing numerous valuable chemicals and fuels. Electrochemical methods for carbon dioxide reduction offer advantages in terms of scalability, the prospect of coupling directly to renewable power sources and the ability to reduce carbon dioxide without the co-production of harmful by-products. Of the various possible products of carbon dioxide electroreduction, oxalate/oxalic acid is an especially attractive target on account of its wide use in a number of chemical and pharmaceutical processes. Herein, we report the results of a study on carbon dioxide electroreduction to oxalate/oxalic acid in a propylene carbonate solvent system, catalysed by the addition of benzonitrile. Our results show that the use of benzonitrile as a homogeneous electrocatalyst improves the Faradaic and reaction yields of oxalate/oxalic acid production, as well as the area-normalised rate of formation of oxalate/oxalic acid, giving a new record rate of formation of 1.65 ± 0.35 mM cm−2 h−1 (averaged over 1 h) at a voltage of ‒2.7 V vs SCE (‒2.46 V vs SHE). Such metrics in turn suggest that the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide to C2+ products via oxalate could be a promising avenue for further development for the sustainable production of key chemical feedstocks.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sale, Halilu and Symes, Professor Mark and Ubbara, Mr Gangi Reddy
Authors: Sale, H., Ubbara, G. R., and Symes, M. D.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Chemistry
Journal Name:Sustainable Energy and Fuels
Publisher:Royal Society of Chemistry
ISSN (Online):2398-4902
Published Online:06 September 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Royal Society of Chemistry
First Published:First published in Sustainable Energy and Fuels 2023
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License
Data DOI:10.5525/gla.researchdata.1497

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
316623Decoupled Electrolysis for the Production of Zero-Carbon HydrogenMark SymesEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/W033135/1Chemistry
312636Driving energetically uphill processes using metal-ligand coordination complexes - RenewalMark SymesThe Royal Society (ROYSOC)URF\R\211007Chemistry