Metal Nanowire Felt as a Flow-Through Electrode for High-Throughput Electrosynthesis

The low productivity of organic electrosynthesis limits the adoption of this green methodology for production of organic chemicals. This work examines to what extent reducing the size of the fibers in a flow-through electrode to the nanoscale can increase the productivity of electrosynthesis. A Cu nanowire felt, made from nanowires 45 times smaller than the 10-μm-wide fibers in carbon paper, achieved a productivity 278 times higher than carbon paper for mass transport-limited reduction of Cu ions. For an intramolecular cyclization reaction that was limited by both mass and charge transfer kinetics, the Cu nanowire felt achieved a productivity 4.2 times higher than carbon paper. This work demonstrates large gains in productivity can be achieved with nanostructured flow-through electrodes, but that potential gains can be limited by charge transfer kinetics.