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Researchers Review the Tuning Strategies and Structure Effects of Catalysts for CO2 Reduction Reaction

Excessive carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption lead to serious climate and environmental problems, such as increasing global average temperature and sea-level rise. The crucial link is diminishing greenhouse gas (mainly CO2) concentrations in the air, which requires efficient CO2 conversions and utilizations. Electrocatalytic reduction reaction of carbon dioxide (CO2RR) can directly convert renewable electricity and CO2 into valuable chemicals, such as formic acid, methanol and ethanol.

Because of the multi-electron reaction mechanisms, the CO2RR products are varied, so the catalyst design is crucial. Substantial strategies have been devoted to searching CO2RR catalysts for specific products. The catalysts with different components or the different intrinsic structure with the same component can both invoke distinct performance.

Therefore, reasonable strategies for tuning the intrinsic and external structure of catalysts have become a primary concern. It is important to develop new strategies for preparing CO2RR catalysts, while the crystal plane, defect, vacancy or multi-component factors in the structure may lead to a series of effects to improve the catalytic activity. The analysis of the activity sources of different catalysts can reveal the catalytic intrinsic nature, which can provide theoretical support for designing CO2RR catalysts.

Recently, a research team led by Prof. Weilin Xu from Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences reviewed the tuning strategies and structure effects of catalysts for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction. The catalyst tuning strategies were reviewed from intrinsic (electrochemical methods, nanocrystal synthesis) and external (inorganic element doping, organic ligand modification) perspectives, respectively.

The structure effects for the CO2RR catalysts have also been discussed, such as tandem catalysis, synergistic effects and confinement catalysis. This review about tuning strategies and structure effects can provide guidance for designing highly efficient CO2RR electrocatalysts. This review paper was published in Chinese Journal of Catalysis (


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