Water enhancement of CO2 conversion on silver in 1-ethyl-3- methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate

Brian A. Rosen, Wei Zhu, Gaurav Kaul, Amin Salehi-Khojin, Richard I. Masel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Electrochemical recycling of carbon dioxide back to fuels and chemicals could be a viable method for CO2 remediation if the efficiency of the process could be improved. One of the key challenges, though, is that the faradaic efficiency is low in the presence of water because water electrolysis is much easier than CO2 electrolysis on most transition metal catalysts. Previous investigators have found that one can eliminate water conversion, by eliminating water from the system, but this has not proven to be practical. Here we present an alternate route, where EMIM-BF4 is used to suppress water electrolysis. We observe that the addition of water to 1-ethyl-3-methyl imidazolium tetrafluoroborate (EMIM-BF4) actually increased the efficiency of CO2 conversion to CO. Indeed we find that little hydrogen is produced on silver in EMIM-Water solutions, provided the water concentration is no more than about 90% by mole. We observe an increase in rate of carbon monoxide (CO) production on silver and platinum as water is added to the electrolyte. We attribute this increase to the hydrolysis of tetrafluoroborate, which releases protons when mixed with water. Protons are shown to accelerate the reduction of CO2 until a critical mole fraction of water is reached.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H138-H141
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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