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CO2 Electrolysis Systems for Chemical and Food Production

Updated: Apr 15


Join us Wednesday 10 April, 10-11am for a webinar with Prof Feng Jiao, a Elvera and William R. Stuckenberg Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.


Traditional chemical industry processes often rely on fossil fuels, which inevitably emit substantial quantities of CO2. Turning CO2 into valuable chemicals is a potential approach for sustainable chemical production. In this presentation, we will discuss our work on developing a two-step tandem CO2 electrolysis system for acetate and ethylene production. We will share our initial discovery of acetate formation in CO electroreduction on Cu catalysts. Mechanistic studies suggest that a ketene-like intermediate is the key for the formation of acetate. With further efforts in reactor engineering, we successfully developed an internally coupled purification strategy that significantly enhances acetate concentration and purity in CO electrolysis. This approach employs an alkaline-stable anion exchange membrane with high ethanol permeability and a selective ethanol partial oxidation anode to regulate the CO reduction product stream.

We successfully demonstrated a stable 120-hour continuous operation of the CO electrolyzer at a current density of 200 mA cm-2 and a full-cell potential of less than 2.3 V, consistently producing a 1.9 M acetate product stream with a purity of 97.7%. This performance is among the best reported in the literature. The ability to convert CO2 into acetate has opened the possibility of developing an electrochemical-biological hybrid approach to produce food from CO2, offering much higher efficiency than natural photosynthetic pathways. Furthermore, we will discuss our recent efforts and technical challenges in scaling up CO electrolysis systems for industrial applications.


Professor Feng Jiao holds a BSc in Chemistry from Fudan University in China and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom. Following the completion of his postdoctoral training at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he joined the faculty at the University of Delaware in 2010. Then, he was promoted to full professor in 2021 and served as the Director of the Center for Catalytic Science & Technology. In August 2023, Professor Jiao joined the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis as the Elvera and William R. Stuckenberg Professor. He also serves as the director of the Center for Carbon Management. The Jiao research group is developing innovative electrochemical devices to address critical energy and sustainability challenges. Professor Jiao has published over 100 research papers, which have collectively received more than 19,000 citations. His contributions have been recognized with several awards and honors, including his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the receipt of the NSF CAREER Award, and recognitions as a 2020 Emerging Investigator by the Journal of Materials Chemistry A and a 2020 Scialog Fellow for the Negative Emission Science (NES) initiative.

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