Effect of cations on the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to CO

Michael R. Thorson, Karl I. Siil, Paul J.A. Kenis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigate the influence of electrolyte composition on the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to CO in an electrochemical flow reactor. Specifically, we study the effect of alkali cations on the partial current densities of the two products: CO and H2. We report that the presence of large cations such as cesium and rubidium in the electrolyte improves the partial current density for CO production. Furthermore, large cations suppress H2 evolution, resulting in high faradaic yields for CO production. For example, with a large cation, specifically CsOH, a partial current density of 72 mA/cm2 was obtained at a cathode potential of-1.62 V vs Ag/AgCl. In contrast, in the presence of a small cation, specifically sodium, a partial current density of only 49 mA/cm2 was achieved at a much more negative cathode potential of-2.37 V vs Ag/AgCl, with NaBr. The effect of cation size on product selectivity for CO production can be explained by the interplay between the level of cation hydration and the extent of cation adsorption on Ag electrodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)F69-F74
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Electrochemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


Dive into the research topics of 'Effect of cations on the electrochemical conversion of CO2 to CO'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this