Probing the local activity of CO2 reduction on gold gas diffusion electrodes: effect of the catalyst loading and CO2 pressure†
Large scale CO2 electrolysis can be achieved using gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs), and is an essential step towards broader implementation of carbon capture and utilization strategies. Different variables are known to affect the performance of GDEs. Especially regarding the catalyst loading, there are diverging trends reported in terms of activity and selectivity, e.g. for CO2 reduction to CO. We have used shear–force based Au nanoelectrode positioning and scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) in the surface-generation tip collection mode to evaluate the activity of Au GDEs for CO2 reduction as a function of catalyst loading and CO2 back pressure. Using a Au nanoelectrode, we have locally measured the amount of CO produced along a catalyst loading gradient under operando conditions. We observed that an optimum local loading of catalyst is necessary to achieve high activities. However, this optimum is directly dependent on the CO2 back pressure. Our work does not only present a tool to evaluate the activity of GDEs locally, it also allows drawing a more precise picture regarding the effect of catalyst loading and CO2 back pressure on their performance.