Perspective on electrocarboxylation catalysts

Perspective on electrocarboxylation catalysts

7 Apr 2021

Title: Translating Tactics from Direct CO2 Electroreduction to Electroorganic Coupling Reactions with CO2

DOI: 10.1002/aesr.202100001 (open access)


Sustainable electrosynthesis technologies are rapidly developing stimulated by the drive for sustainable chemical manufacturing and the increasingly accessible renewable electricity prices. The electrochemical utilization of easily available feedstock, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), has attracted significant attention as it can additionally help closing the disrupted carbon cycle. While direct CO2 reduction has benefited from recent advancements in the catalyst, electrolyte and system design, developments in electrochemical coupling of CO2 with organic precursors to yield value-added chemicals have been lagging behind due to the apparent disconnect between the direct CO2 reduction and the organic electrosynthesis communities. Currently, electrocarboxylation reactions require high operating voltages, show low current densities, limited selectivity towards target products and are associated with low atom economy due to the reliance on sacrificial anode dissolution. Advancing this indirect electrochemical CO2 utilization strategy will enable sustainable synthesis of valuable chemicals including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and precursors for plasticizers and commercially-relevant polymers—all of which are currently produced with high carbon footprint and low atom economy. This perspective discusses the current state-of-the-art in electroorganic synthesis with CO2 as a one-carbon synthon and suggests several transferrable strategies from direct CO2 reduction breakthroughs to advance electrocarboxylation and bring it closer to industrial implementation.