Electrochemical promotion of catalysis over Pd nanoparticles for CO2 reduction†
Electrochemical promotion of catalysis (EPOC) has been shown to accelerate the rate of many heterogeneous catalytic reactions; however, it has rarely been reported in low-temperature aqueous electrochemical reactions. Herein, we report a significant EPOC effect for the CO2 reduction to generate formate over Pd nanoparticles (NPs) in a 1 M KHCO3 aqueous solution. By applying a negative potential over differently-sized Pd NPs, the rate of formate production is greatly improved as compared to that at an open-circuit voltage, with a rate enhancement ratio ranging from 10 to 143. The thermocatalytic and electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 compete with each other and are promoted by the applied negative potential and H2 in the feeds, respectively. Inspired by the EPOC effect, a composite electrode containing Pd/C and Pt/C catalysts on different sides of a carbon paper was constructed for catalyzing the CO2 reduction without adding H2 to the feeds. Water electrolysis over Pt NPs generates H2, which then effectively promotes formate production over Pd NPs.