Electrocatalytic CO2 Reduction with a Homogeneous Catalyst in Ionic Liquid: High Catalytic Activity at Low Overpotential

David C Grills, Yasuo Matsubara, Yutaka Kuwahara, Suzanne R Golisz, Daniel A Kurtz, Barbara A Mello
Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 2014 June 5, 5 (11): 2033-8
We describe a new strategy for enhancing the efficiency of electrocatalytic CO2 reduction with a homogeneous catalyst, using a room-temperature ionic liquid as both the solvent and electrolyte. The electrochemical behavior of fac-ReCl(2,2'-bipyridine)(CO)3 in neat 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetracyanoborate ([emim][TCB]) was compared with that in acetonitrile containing 0.1 M [Bu4N][PF6]. Two separate one-electron reductions occur in acetonitrile (-1.74 and -2.11 V vs Fc(+/0)), with a modest catalytic current appearing at the second reduction wave under CO2. However, in [emim][TCB], a two-electron reduction wave appears at -1.66 V, resulting in a ∼0.45 V lower overpotential for catalytic reduction of CO2 to CO. Furthermore, the apparent CO2 reduction rate constant, kapp, in [emim][TCB] exceeds that in acetonitrile by over one order of magnitude (kapp = 4000 vs 100 M(-1) s(-1)) at 25 ± 3 °C. Supported by time-resolved infrared measurements, a mechanism is proposed in which an interaction between [emim](+) and the two-electron reduced catalyst results in rapid dissociation of chloride and a decrease in the activation energy for CO2 reduction.

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