Metallic Porous Electrodes Enable Efficient Bicarbonate Electrolysis
We demonstrate here that a porous free-standing silver foam cathode in an electrolytic flow electrolyzer mediates efficient electrolysis of 3.0 M bicarbonate solutions into CO. These results have direct implications for carbon capture schemes where OH- solutions react with CO2 to form bicarbonate-rich solutions that need to be treated to recycle the sorbent and recover the CO2. Our study shows a viable path for replacing the high-temperature thermal process currently used to recover CO2 from these carbon
capture solutions by using electricity to drive the conversion of bicarbonate into CO2 and subsequently into CO. The use of free-standing porous silver electrodes was found to yield electrolysis performance parameters (e.g., a Faradaic efficiency for CO production, FECO, of 95% at 100 mA cm2; <3% performance loss after 80 h operation) that are superior to results obtained in bicarbonate electrolyzers that utilize conventional carbon-based gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) designed for gaseous CO2 fed electrolyzers. This liquid-fed bicarbonate electrolyzer achieves high CO formation rates with the added benefit of not requiring an energy-intensive CO2 regeneration step that would be necessary for the electrolysis of gaseous CO2. These findings represent a potentially important step in closing the carbon cycle.