Binder-Focused Approaches to Improve the Stability of Cathodes for CO2 Electroreduction

Uzoma O. Nwabara, Anthony D. Hernandez, Danielle A. Henckel, Xinyi Chen, Emiliana R. Cofell, Michiel P. De-Heer, Sumit Verma, Andrew A. Gewirth, Paul J.A. Kenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the use of flow electrolyzers has enabled high selectivity (>80%) and activity (>200 mA cm-2) in the reduction of CO2 to value-Added chemicals, the durability of these systems is still insufficient for feasibility at scale. A key component of flow electrolyzers, the gas diffusion electrode, must be hydrophobic and stable to maintain the triple phase boundary at the catalyst layer. The catalyst layer consists of an active catalyst and a binder to augment hydrophobicity and stability. Many CO2 electrolysis systems utilize Nafion as the binder, yet, these cathodes are prone to carbonate formation and are often not stable beyond 20 h. Inspired by knowledge from other electrocatalysis applications, this paper explores alternatives to Nafion in the catalyst layer as well as different methods of catalyst layer preparation. Cathodes with a poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE) binder elude carbonate formation, although their performance still decreases over time. However, the addition of PTFE to Nafion (mixed binders) limited carbonate formation. Furthermore, we found that coating cathodes with a Sustainion ionomer over layer extends lifetimes, presumably by hindering carbonate formation. The characteristics of cathodes with these binders are further explored using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to help explain their effect on the electroreduction of CO2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5175-5186
Number of pages12
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 24 2021


  • COelectroreduction
  • binders
  • degradation
  • durability
  • gas diffusion electrodes
  • stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Electrochemistry

Cite this