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3D Hierarchically Porous Nanostructured Catalyst Helps Efficiently Reduce CO2​
View : 1418 Date : 2020-03-13 Writer : PR Office

- This new catalyst will bring CO2 one step closer to serving as a sustainable energy source. -

Professor Seokwoo Jeon (left), Ph.D. Candidate Gayea Hyun (center), Professor Jihun Oh (right)

< Professor Seokwoo Jeon (left), Ph.D. Candidate Gayea Hyun (center), Professor Jihun Oh (right) >

KAIST researchers developed a three-dimensional (3D) hierarchically porous nanostructured catalyst with carbon dioxide (CO2) to carbon monoxide (CO) conversion rate up to 3.96 times higher than that of conventional nanoporous gold catalysts. This new catalyst helps overcome the existing limitations of the mass transport that has been a major cause of decreases in the CO2 conversion rate, holding a strong promise for the large-scale and cost-effective electrochemical conversion of CO2 into useful chemicals.

As CO2 emissions increase and fossil fuels deplete globally, reducing and converting CO2 to clean energy electrochemically has attracted a great deal of attention as a promising technology. Especially due to the fact that the CO2 reduction reaction occurs competitively with hydrogen evolution reactions (HER) at similar redox potentials, the development of an efficient electrocatalyst for selective and robust CO2 reduction reactions has remained a key technological issue.

Gold (Au) is one of the most commonly used catalysts in CO2 reduction reactions, but the high cost and scarcity of Au pose obstacles for mass commercial applications. The development of nanostructures has been extensively studied as a potential approach to improving the selectivity for target products and maximizing the number of active stable sites, thus enhancing the energy efficiency.

However, the nanopores of the previously reported complex nanostructures were easily blocked by gaseous CO bubbles during aqueous reactions. The CO bubbles hindered mass transport of the reactants through the electrolyte, resulting in low CO2 conversion rates.

In the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) on March 4, a research group at KAIST led by Professor Seokwoo Jeon and Professor Jihun Oh from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering designed a 3D hierarchically porous Au nanostructure with two different sizes of macropores and nanopores. The team used proximity-field nanopatterning (PnP) and electroplating techniques that are effective for fabricating the 3D well-ordered nanostructures.

The proposed nanostructure, comprised of interconnected macroporous channels 200 to 300 nanometers (nm) wide and 10 nm nanopores, induces efficient mass transport through the interconnected macroporous channels as well as high selectivity by producing highly active stable sites from numerous nanopores.

As a result, its electrodes show a high CO selectivity of 85.8% at a low overpotential of 0.264 V and efficient mass activity that is up to 3.96 times higher than that of de-alloyed nanoporous Au electrodes.

“These results are expected to solve the problem of mass transfer in the field of similar electrochemical reactions and can be applied to a wide range of green energy applications for the efficient utilization of electrocatalysts,” said the researchers.

This work was supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Korea.

Figure 1. Fabrication procedures of various gold nanostructures through proximity-field nanopatterning (PnP) and electroplating techniques.

< Figure 1. Fabrication procedures of various gold nanostructures through proximity-field nanopatterning (PnP) and electroplating techniques. >

Figure 2. Top view of scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of the hierarchically porous gold nanostructure (Scale bars, 3 μm).

< Figure 2. Top view of scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of the hierarchically porous gold nanostructure (Scale bars, 3 μm). >

Figure 3. Schematic illustration and the cross-sectional view with the expected reaction pathway for the hierarchically porous gold and nanoporous gold electrodes.

< Figure 3. Schematic illustration and the cross-sectional view with the expected reaction pathway for the hierarchically porous gold and nanoporous gold electrodes. >

Image credit: Professor Seokwoo Jeon and Professor Jihun Oh, KAIST

Image usage restrictions: News organizations may use or redistribute this image, with proper attribution, as part of news coverage of this paper only. 

Publication:
Hyun et al. (2020) Hierarchically porous Au nanostructures with interconnected channels for efficient mass transport in electrocatalytic CO2 reduction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS). Available online at https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1918837117

Profile:
Seokwoo Jeon, PhD
Professor
jeon39@kaist.ac.kr 
http://fdml.kaist.ac.kr 
Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)
https://www.kaist.ac.kr 
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST)
Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Profile:
Jihun Oh, PhD
Associate Professor
jihun.oh@kaist.ac.kr 
http://les.kaist.ac.kr 
Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)
Department of Energy, Environment, Water and Sustainability (EEWS)
KAIST

Profile:
Gayea Hyun
PhD Candidate
cldywkd93@kaist.ac.kr 
http://fdml.kaist.ac.kr 
Flexible Devices and Metamaterials Laboratory (FDML)
Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)
KAIST

Profile:
Jun Tae Song, PhD
Assistant Professor
song.juntae@cstf.kyushu-u.ac.jp 
http://www.cstf.kyushu-u.ac.jp/~ishihara-lab/ 
Department of Applied Chemistry
https://www.kyushu-u.ac.jp 
Kyushu University
Fukuoka, Japan

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