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  1. Abstract Electrochemical oxygen reduction to hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) in acidic media, especially in proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrode assembly reactors, suffers from low selectivity and the lack of low-cost catalysts. Here we present a cation-regulated interfacial engineering approach to promote the H 2 O 2 selectivity (over 80%) under industrial-relevant generation rates (over 400 mA cm −2 ) in strong acidic media using just carbon black catalyst and a small number of alkali metal cations, representing a 25-fold improvement compared to that without cation additives. Our density functional theory simulation suggests a “shielding effect” of alkali metal cations which squeeze away the catalyst/electrolyte interfacial protons and thus prevent further reduction of generated H 2 O 2 to water. A double-PEM solid electrolyte reactor was further developed to realize a continuous, selective (∼90%) and stable (over 500 hours) generation of H 2 O 2 via implementing this cation effect for practical applications.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  2. Abstract Electrochemical water oxidation reaction (WOR) to hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) via a 2e − pathway provides a sustainable H 2 O 2 synthetic route, but is challenged by the traditional 4e − counterpart of oxygen evolution. Here we report a CO 2 /carbonate mediation approach to steering the WOR pathway from 4e − to 2e − . Using fluorine-doped tin oxide electrode in carbonate solutions, we achieved high H 2 O 2 selectivity of up to 87%, and delivered unprecedented H 2 O 2 partial currents of up to 1.3 A cm −2 , which represents orders of magnitude improvement compared to literature. Molecular dynamics simulations, coupled with electron paramagnetic resonance and isotope labeling experiments, suggested that carbonate mediates the WOR pathway to H 2 O 2 through the formation of carbonate radical and percarbonate intermediates. The high selectivity, industrial-relevant activity, and good durability open up practical opportunities for delocalized H 2 O 2 production.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2023
  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 22, 2023
  4. Selective electrochemical two-electron oxygen reduction is a promising route for renewable and on-site H2O2 generation as an alternative to the anthraquinone process. Herein, we report a high-performance nitrogen-coordinated single-atom Pd electrocatalyst, which is derived from Pd-doped zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs) through one-step thermolysis. High-angle annular dark-field scanning transmission electron microscopy (HAADF-STEM) combined with X-ray absorption spectroscopy verifies atomically dispersed Pd atoms on nitrogen-doped carbon (Pd-NC). The single-atom Pd-NC catalyst exhibits excellent electrocatalytic performance for two-electron oxygen reduction to H2O2, which shows ∼95% selectivity toward H2O2 and an unprecedented onset potential of ∼0.8 V versus revisable hydrogen electrode (RHE) in 0.1 M KOH. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations demonstrate that the Pd-N4 catalytic sites thermodynamically prefer *–O bond breaking to O–O bond breaking, corresponding to a high selectivity for H2O2 production. This work provides a deep insight into the understanding of the catalytic process and design of high-performance 2e– ORR catalysts.
  5. The electrochemical behavior of sulfur-based batteries is intrinsically governed by polysulfide species. Here, we compare the substitutions of selenium and tellurium into polysulfide chains and demonstrate their beneficial impact on the chemistry of lithium–sulfur batteries. While selenium-substituted polysulfides enhance cathode utilization by effectively catalyzing the sulfur/Li 2 S conversion reactions due to the preferential formation of radical intermediates, tellurium-substituted polysulfides improve lithium cycling efficiency by reducing into a passivating interfacial layer on the lithium surface with low Li + -ion diffusion barriers. This unconventional strategy based on “molecular engineering” of polysulfides and exploiting the intrinsic polysulfide shuttle effect is validated by a ten-fold improvement in the cycle life of lean-electrolyte “anode-free” pouch cells. Assembled with no free lithium metal at the anode, the anode-free configuration maximizes the energy density, mitigates the challenges of handling thin lithium foils, and eliminates self-discharge upon cell assembly. The insights generated into the differences between selenium and tellurium chemistries can be applied to benefit a broad range of metal–chalcogen batteries as well as chalcogenide solid electrolytes.
  6. Abstract Oxygen reduction reaction towards hydrogen peroxide (H 2 O 2 ) provides a green alternative route for H 2 O 2 production, but it lacks efficient catalysts to achieve high selectivity and activity simultaneously under industrial-relevant production rates. Here we report a boron-doped carbon (B-C) catalyst which can overcome this activity-selectivity dilemma. Compared to the state-of-the-art oxidized carbon catalyst, B-C catalyst presents enhanced activity (saving more than 210 mV overpotential) under industrial-relevant currents (up to 300 mA cm −2 ) while maintaining high H 2 O 2 selectivity (85–90%). Density-functional theory calculations reveal that the boron dopant site is responsible for high H 2 O 2 activity and selectivity due to low thermodynamic and kinetic barriers. Employed in our porous solid electrolyte reactor, the B-C catalyst demonstrates a direct and continuous generation of pure H 2 O 2 solutions with high selectivity (up to 95%) and high H 2 O 2 partial currents (up to ~400 mA cm −2 ), illustrating the catalyst’s great potential for practical applications in the future.
  7. Proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) and direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) are promising power sources from portable electronic devices to vehicles. The high-cost issue of these low-temperature fuel cells can be primarily addressed by using platinum-group metal (PGM)-free oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) catalysts, in particular atomically dispersed metal–nitrogen–carbon (M–N–C, M = Fe, Co, Mn). Furthermore, a significant advantage of M–N–C catalysts is their superior methanol tolerance over Pt, which can mitigate the methanol cross-over effect and offer great potential of using a higher concentration of methanol in DMFCs. Here, we investigated the ORR catalytic properties of M–N–C catalysts in methanol-containing acidic electrolytes via experiments and density functional theory (DFT) calculations. FeN 4 sites demonstrated the highest methanol tolerance ability when compared to metal-free pyridinic N, CoN 4 , and MnN 4 active sites. The methanol adsorption on MN 4 sites is even strengthened when electrode potentials are applied during the ORR. The negative influence of methanol adsorption becomes significant for methanol concentrations higher than 2.0 M. However, the methanol adsorption does not affect the 4e − ORR pathway or chemically destroy the FeN 4 sites. The understanding of the methanol-induced ORR activity loss guides the design of promising M–N–C cathodemore »catalyst in DMFCs. Accordingly, we developed a dual-metal site Fe/Co–N–C catalyst through a combined chemical-doping and adsorption strategy. Instead of generating a possible synergistic effect, the introduced Co atoms in the first doping step act as “scissors” for Zn removal in metal–organic frameworks (MOFs), which is crucial for modifying the porosity of the catalyst and providing more defects for stabilizing the active FeN 4 sites generated in the second adsorption step. The Fe/Co–N–C catalyst significantly improved the ORR catalytic activity and delivered remarkably enhanced peak power densities ( i.e. , 502 and 135 mW cm −2 ) under H 2 –air and methanol–air conditions, respectively, representing the best performance for both types of fuel cells. Notably, the fundamental understanding of methanol tolerance, along with the encouraging DMFC performance, will open an avenue for the potential application of atomically dispersed M–N–C catalysts in other direct alcohol or ammonia fuel cells.« less