Modeling gas-diffusion electrodes for CO2 reduction
CO2 reduction conducted in electrochemical cells with planar electrodes immersed in an aqueous electrolyte is severely limited by mass transport across the hydrodynamic boundary layer. This limitation can be minimized by use of vapor-fed, gas-diffusion electrodes (GDEs), enabling current densities that are almost two orders of magnitude greater at the same applied cathode overpotential than what is achievable with planar electrodes in an aqueous electrolyte. The addition of porous cathode layers, however, introduces a number of parameters that need to be tuned in order to optimize the performance of the GDE cell. In this work, we develop a multiphysics model for gas diffusion electrodes for CO2 reduction and used it to investigate the interplay between species transport and electrochemical reaction kinetics. The model demonstrates how the local environment near the catalyst layer, which is a function of the operating conditions, affects cell performance. We also examine the effects of catalyst layer hydrophobicity, loading, porosity, and electrolyte flowrate to help guide experimental design of vapor-fed CO2 reduction cells.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 2018 PCCP HOT Articles