Surface structured platinum electrodes for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide in imidazolium based ionic liquids

Florin A Hanc-Scherer, Miguel A Montiel, Vicente Montiel, Enrique Herrero, Carlos M Sánchez-Sánchez
Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics: PCCP 2015 October 7, 17 (37): 23909-16
The direct CO2 electrochemical reduction on model platinum single crystal electrodes Pt(hkl) is studied in [C2mim(+)][NTf2(-)], a suitable room temperature ionic liquid (RTIL) medium due to its moderate viscosity, high CO2 solubility and conductivity. Single crystal electrodes represent the most convenient type of surface structured electrodes for studying the impact of RTIL ion adsorption on relevant electrocatalytic reactions, such as surface sensitive electrochemical CO2 reduction. We propose here based on cyclic voltammetry and in situ electrolysis measurements, for the first time, the formation of a stable adduct [C2mimH-CO2(-)] by a radical-radical coupling after the simultaneous reduction of CO2 and [C2mim(+)]. It means between the CO2 radical anion and the radical formed from the reduction of the cation [C2mim(+)] before forming the corresponding electrogenerated carbene. This is confirmed by the voltammetric study of a model imidazolium-2-carboxylate compound formed following the carbene pathway. The formation of that stable adduct [C2mimH-CO2(-)] blocks CO2 reduction after a single electron transfer and inhibits CO2 and imidazolium dimerization reactions. However, the electrochemical reduction of CO2 under those conditions provokes the electrochemical cathodic degradation of the imidazolium based RTIL. This important limitation in CO2 recycling by direct electrochemical reduction is overcome by adding a strong acid, [H(+)][NTf2(-)], into solution. Then, protons become preferentially adsorbed on the electrode surface by displacing the imidazolium cations and inhibiting their electrochemical reduction. This fact allows the surface sensitive electro-synthesis of HCOOH from CO2 reduction in [C2mim(+)][NTf2(-)], with Pt(110) being the most active electrode studied.

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