Acetaldehyde as an Intermediate in the Electroreduction of Carbon Monoxide to Ethanol on Oxide-Derived Copper

Erlend Bertheussen, Arnau Verdaguer-Casadevall, Davide Ravasio, Joseph H Montoya, Daniel B Trimarco, Claudie Roy, Sebastian Meier, Jürgen Wendland, Jens K Nørskov, Ifan E L Stephens, Ib Chorkendorff
Angewandte Chemie 2016 January 22, 55 (4): 1450-4
Oxide-derived copper (OD-Cu) electrodes exhibit unprecedented CO reduction performance towards liquid fuels, producing ethanol and acetate with >50% Faradaic efficiency at -0.3 V (vs. RHE). By using static headspace-gas chromatography for liquid phase analysis, we identify acetaldehyde as a minor product and key intermediate in the electroreduction of CO to ethanol on OD-Cu electrodes. Acetaldehyde is produced with a Faradaic efficiency of ≈5% at -0.33 V (vs. RHE). We show that acetaldehyde forms at low steady-state concentrations, and that free acetaldehyde is difficult to detect in alkaline solutions using NMR spectroscopy, requiring alternative methods for detection and quantification. Our results represent an important step towards understanding the CO reduction mechanism on OD-Cu electrodes.

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