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Title: Electrocatalytic Reduction of Carbon Dioxide on Post-Transition Metal and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles
Authors: White, James Lawrence
Advisors: Bocarsly, Andrew B
Contributors: Chemistry Department
Keywords: carbon dioxide reduction
Subjects: Chemistry
Materials Science
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: The electroreduction of carbon dioxide to liquid products is an important component in the utilization of CO2 and in the high-density storage of intermittent renewable energy in the form of chemical bonds. Materials based on indium and tin, which yield predominantly formic acid, have been investigated in order to gain a greater understanding of the electrochemically active species and the mechanism of CO2 reduction on these heavy post-transition metals, since prior studies on the bulk metals did not provide thermodynamically sensible reaction pathways. Nanoparticles of the oxides and hydroxides of tin and indium have been prepared and characterized by transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffractometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and various electrochemical methods in order to obtain structural information and analyze the role of various surface species on the CO2 reduction pathway. On both indium and tin, metastable surface-bound hydroxides bound CO2 and formed metal carbonates, which can then be reduced electrochemically. The relevant oxidation state of tin was suggested to be SnII rather than SnIV, necessitating a pre reduction to generate the CO2-binding species. Metallic indium nanoparticles partially oxidized in air and became highly efficient CO2 reduction electrocatalysts. Unit Faradaic efficiencies for formate, much higher than on bulk indium, were achieved with only 300 mV of overpotential on these particles, which possessed an oxyhydroxide shell surrounding a conductive metallic core. Alloys and mixed-metal oxide and hydroxide particles of tin and indium have also been studied for their carbon dioxide electrocatalytic capabilities, especially in comparison to the pure metal species. Additionally, a solar-driven indium-based CO2 electrolyzer was developed to investigate the overall efficiency for intermittent energy storage. The three flow cells were powered by a commercial photovoltaic array and had a maximum conversion efficiency of incident solar energy to combustible chemical bonds of 1.8%, twice as high as natural photosynthesis in green plants and almost ten times as high as the previous best solar-powered CO2 electroreduction system.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Chemistry

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