Switching the reaction course of electrochemical CO₂ reduction with ionic liquids

Liyuan Sun, Ganganahalli K Ramesha, Prashant V Kamat, Joan F Brennecke
Langmuir: the ACS Journal of Surfaces and Colloids 2014 June 3, 30 (21): 6302-8
The ionic liquid 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide ([emim][Tf2N]) offers new ways to modulate the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide. [emim][Tf2N], when present as the supporting electrolyte in acetonitrile, decreases the reduction overpotential at a Pb electrode by 0.18 V as compared to tetraethylammonium perchlorate as the supporting electrolyte. More interestingly, the ionic liquid shifts the reaction course during the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide by promoting the formation of carbon monoxide instead of oxalate anion. With increasing concentration of [emim][Tf2N], a carboxylate species with reduced CO2 covalently bonded to the imidazolium ring is formed along with carbon monoxide. The results highlight the catalytic effects of the medium in modulating the CO2 reduction products.

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