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  1. Abstract

    Ethylene glycol is a widely utilized commodity chemical, the production of which accounts for over 46 million tons of CO2emission annually. Here we report a paired electrocatalytic approach for ethylene glycol production from methanol. Carbon catalysts are effective in reducing formaldehyde into ethylene glycol with a 92% Faradaic efficiency, whereas Pt catalysts at the anode enable formaldehyde production through methanol partial oxidation with a 75% Faradaic efficiency. With a membrane-electrode assembly configuration, we show the feasibility of ethylene glycol electrosynthesis from methanol in a single electrolyzer. The electrolyzer operates a full cell voltage of 3.2 V at a current density of 100 mA cm−2, with a 60% reduction in energy consumption. Further investigations, using operando flow electrolyzer mass spectroscopy, isotopic labeling, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations, indicate that the desorption of a *CH2OH intermediate is the crucial step in determining the selectively towards ethylene glycol over methanol.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Abstract

    One major challenge that limits the applications of 2D semiconductors is the detrimental electronic trap states caused by vacancies. Here using grand‐canonical density functional theory calculations, a novel approach is demonstrated that uses aqueous electrochemistry to eliminate the trap states of the vacancies in 2D transition metal dichalcogenides while leaving the perfect part of the material intact. The success of this electrochemical approach is based on the selectivity control by the electrode potential and the isovalence between oxygen and chalcogen. Motivated by these results, electrochemical conditions are further identified to functionalize the vacancies by incorporating various single metal atoms, which can bring in magnetism, tune carrier concentration/polarity, and/or activate single‐atom catalysis, enabling a wide range of potential applications. These approaches may be generalized to other 2D materials. The results open up a new avenue for improving the properties and extending the applications of 2D materials.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 12, 2024
  4. 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. 
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  5. 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. 
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  6. 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. 
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