Unveiling hydrocerussite as an electrochemically stable active phase for efficient carbon dioxide electroreduction to formate.
ABSTRACT: For most metal-containing CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) electrocatalysts, the unavoidable self-reduction to zero-valence metal will promote hydrogen evolution, hence lowering the CO2RR selectivity. Thus it is challenging to design a stable phase with resistance to electrochemical self-reduction as well as high CO2RR activity. Herein, we report a scenario to develop hydrocerussite as a stable and active electrocatalyst via in situ conversion of a complex precursor, tannin-lead(II) (TA-Pb) complex. A comprehensive characterization reveals the in situ transformation of TA-Pb to cerussite (PbCO3), and sequentially to hydrocerussite (Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2), which finally serves as a stable and active phase under CO2RR condition. Both experiments and theoretical calculations confirm the high activity and selectivity over hydrocerussite. This work not only offers a new approach of enhancing the selectivity in CO2RR by suppressing the self-reduction of electrode materials, but also provides a strategy for studying the reaction mechanism and active phases of electrocatalysts.
Project description:Until the 19th century, lead white was the most important white pigment used in oil paintings. Lead white is typically composed of two crystalline lead carbonates: hydrocerussite [2PbCO3·Pb(OH)2] and cerussite (PbCO3). Depending on the ratio between hydrocerussite and cerussite, lead white can be classified into different subtypes, each with different optical properties. Current methods to investigate and differentiate between lead white subtypes involve invasive sampling on a microscopic scale, introducing problems of paint damage and representativeness. In this study, a 17th century painting Girl with a Pearl Earring (by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665, collection of the Mauritshuis, NL) was analyzed with a recently developed mobile and noninvasive macroscopic x-ray powder diffraction (MA-XRPD) scanner within the project Girl in the Spotlight. Four different subtypes of lead white were identified using XRPD imaging at the macroscopic and microscopic scale, implying that Vermeer was highly discriminatory in his use of lead white.
Project description:A hitherto unknown composition is highlighted in the red and black inks preserved on ancient Egyptian papyri from the Roman period (circa 100 to 200 CE). Synchrotron-based macro-X-ray fluorescence (XRF) mapping brings to light the presence of iron (Fe) and lead (Pb) compounds in the majority of the red inks inscribed on 12 papyrus fragments from the Tebtunis temple library. The iron-based compounds in the inks can be assigned to ocher, notably due to the colocalization of Fe with aluminum, and the detection of hematite (Fe2O3) by micro-X-ray diffraction. Using the same techniques together with micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Pb is shown to be associated with fatty acid phosphate, sulfate, chloride, and carboxylate ions. Moreover, micro-XRF maps reveal a peculiar distribution and colocalization of Pb, phosphorus (P), and sulfur (S), which are present at the micrometric scale resembling diffused "coffee rings" surrounding the ocher particles imbedded in the red letters, and at the submicrometric scale concentrated in the papyrus cell walls. A similar Pb, P, and S composition was found in three black inks, suggesting that the same lead components were employed in the manufacture of carbon-based inks. Bearing in mind that pigments such as red lead (Pb3O4) and lead white (hydrocerussite [Pb3(CO3)2(OH)2] and/or cerussite [PbCO3]) were not detected, the results presented here suggest that the lead compound in the ink was used as a drier rather than as a pigment. Accordingly, the study calls for a reassessment of the composition of lead-based components in ancient Mediterranean pigments.
Project description:A Pb-based synthetic mineral referred to as psimythion (pl. psimythia) was manufactured in the Greek world at least since the 6th c BCE and routinely by the 4th c BCE. Theophrastus (On Stones, 56) describes its preparation from metallic Pb suspended over a fermenting liquid. Psimythion is considered the precursor of one of western art's most prominent white pigments, i.e. lead white (basic lead carbonate or synthetic hydrocerussite). However, so far, and for that early period, published analyses of psimythia suggest that they consisted primarily of synthetic cerussite. In this paper, we set out to investigate how it was possible to manufacture pure cerussite, to the near exclusion of other phases. We examined the chemical and mineralogical composition (pXRF/XRD) of a small number of psimythion pellets found within ceramic pots (pyxis) from Athens and Boeotia (5th-4th c BCE) in the collection of the National Archaeological Museum (NAM), Athens. Analyses showed that the NAM pellets consisted primarily of Pb/cerussite with small amounts of Ca (some samples) and a host of metallic trace elements. We highlight the reference in the Theophrastus text to 'spoiled wine' (oxos), rather than 'vinegar', as has been previously assumed, the former including a strong biotic component. We carried out DNA sequencing of the pellets in an attempt to establish presence of microorganisms (Acetic Acid Bacteria). None was found. Subsequently, and as a working hypothesis, we propose a series of (biotic/abiotic) reactions which were likely to have taken place in the liquid and vapour phases and on the metal surface. The hypothesis aims to demonstrate that CO2 would be microbially induced and would increase, as a function of time, resulting in cerussite forming over and above hydrocerussite/other Pb-rich phases. Psimythion has for long been valued as a white pigment. What has perhaps been not adequately appreciated is the depth of empirical understanding from the part of psimythion manufacturers of the reactions between abiotic and biotic components within 'oxos'/pot, as key drivers of minerals synthesis. Ultimately, psimythion manufacture may rest in understanding the nature of 'oxos', antiquity's relatively little researched strongest acid.
Project description:Efficient conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) into value-added products is essential for clean energy research. Design of stable, selective, and powerful electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) is highly desirable yet largely unmet. In this work, a series of metalloporphyrin-tetrathiafulvalene based covalent organic frameworks (M-TTCOFs) are designed. Tetrathiafulvalene, serving as electron donator or carrier, can construct an oriented electron transmission pathway with metalloporphyrin. Thus-obtained M-TTCOFs can serve as electrocatalysts with high FECO (91.3%, -0.7?V) and possess high cycling stability (>40?h). In addition, after exfoliation, the FECO value of Co-TTCOF nanosheets (~5?nm) is higher than 90% in a wide potential range from -0.6 to -0.9?V and the maximum FECO can reach up to almost 100% (99.7%, -0.8?V). The electrocatalytic CO2RR mechanisms are discussed and revealed by density functional theory calculations. This work paves a new way in exploring porous crystalline materials in electrocatalytic CO2RR.
Project description:Bimetallic CuZn catalysts have been recently proposed as alternatives in order to achieve selectivity control during the electrochemical reduction of CO2 (CO2RR). However, fundamental understanding of the underlying reaction mechanism and parameters determining the CO2RR performance is still missing. In this study, we have employed size-controlled (?5 nm) Cu100-xZnx nanoparticles (NPs) supported on carbon to investigate the correlation between their structure and composition and catalytic performance. By tuning the concentration of Zn, a drastic increase in CH4 selectivity [?70% Faradaic efficiency (F.E.)] could be achieved for Zn contents from 10 to 50, which was accompanied by a suppression of the H2 production. Samples containing a higher Zn concentration displayed significantly lower CH4 production and an abrupt switch in the selectivity to CO. Lack of metal leaching was observed based on quasi in situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Operando X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy measurements revealed that the alloying of Cu atoms with Zn atoms takes place under reaction conditions and plays a determining role in the product selectivity. Time-dependent XAFS analysis showed that the local structure and chemical environment around the Cu atoms continuously evolve during CO2RR for several hours. In particular, cationic Zn species initially present were found to get reduced as the reaction proceeded, leading to the formation of a CuZn alloy (brass). The evolution of the Cu-Zn interaction with time during CO2RR was found to be responsible for the change in the selectivity from CH4 over Cu-ZnO NPs to CO over CuZn alloy NPs. This study highlights the importance of having access to in depth information on the interplay between the different atomic species in bimetallic NP electrocatalysts under operando reaction conditions in order to understand and ultimately tune their reactivity.
Project description:Selective electrocatalysts are urgently needed for carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction to replace fossil fuels with renewable fuels, thereby closing the carbon cycle. To date, noble metals have achieved the best performance in energy yield and faradaic efficiency and have recently reached impressive electrical-to-chemical power conversion efficiencies. However, the scarcity of precious metals makes the search for scalable, metal-free, CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) catalysts all the more important. We report an all-organic, that is, metal-free, electrocatalyst that achieves impressive performance comparable to that of best-in-class Ag electrocatalysts. We hypothesized that polydopamine-a conjugated polymer whose structure incorporates hydrogen-bonded motifs found in enzymes-could offer the combination of efficient electrical conduction, together with rendered active catalytic sites, and potentially thereby enable CO2RR. Only by developing a vapor-phase polymerization of polydopamine were we able to combine the needed excellent conductivity with thin film-based processing. We achieve catalytic performance with geometric current densities of 18 mA cm-2 at 0.21 V overpotential (-0.86 V versus normal hydrogen electrode) for the electrosynthesis of C1 species (carbon monoxide and formate) with continuous 16-hour operation at >80% faradaic efficiency. Our catalyst exhibits lower overpotentials than state-of-the-art formate-selective metal electrocatalysts (for example, 0.5 V for Ag at 18 mA cm-1). The results confirm the value of exploiting hydrogen-bonded sequences as effective catalytic centers for renewable and cost-efficient industrial CO2RR applications.
Project description:The key to fully leveraging the potential of the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) to achieve a sustainable solar-power-based economy is the development of high-performance electrocatalysts. The development process relies heavily on trial and error methods due to poor mechanistic understanding of the reaction. Demonstrated here is that ionic liquids (ILs) can be employed as a chemical trapping agent to probe CO2RR mechanistic pathways. This method is implemented by introducing a small amount of an IL ([BMIm][NTf2 ]) to a copper foam catalyst, on which a wide range of CO2RR products, including formate, CO, alcohols, and hydrocarbons, can be produced. The IL can selectively suppress the formation of ethylene, ethanol and n-propanol while having little impact on others. Thus, reaction networks leading to various products can be disentangled. The results shed new light on the mechanistic understanding of the CO2RR, and provide guidelines for modulating the CO2RR properties. Chemical trapping using an IL adds to the toolbox to deduce the mechanistic understanding of electrocatalysis and could be applied to other reactions as well.
Project description:Gold is one of the most selective catalysts for the electrochemical reduction of CO2 (CO2RR) to CO. However, the concomitant hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) remains unavoidable under aqueous conditions. In this work, a rotating ring disk electrode (RRDE) setup has been developed to study quantitatively the role of mass transport in the competition between these two reactions on the Au surface in 0.1 M bicarbonate electrolyte. Interestingly, while the faradaic selectivity for CO formation was found to increase with enhanced mass transport (from 67% to 83%), this effect is not due to an enhancement of the CO2RR rate. Remarkably, the inhibition of the competing HER from water reduction with increasing disk rotation rate is responsible for the enhanced CO2RR selectivity. This can be explained by the observation that, on the Au electrode, water reduction improves with more alkaline pH. As a result, the decrease in the local alkalinity near the electrode surface with enhanced mass transport suppresses HER due to the water reduction. Our study shows that controlling the local pH by mass transport conditions can tune the HER rate, in turn regulating the CO2RR and HER competition in the general operating potential window for CO2RR (-0.4 to -1 V vs RHE).
Project description:In the present study, we evaluated a commonly employed modified Bureau Communautaire de Référence (BCR test) 3-step sequential extraction procedure for its ability to distinguish forms of solid-phase Pb in soils with different sources and histories of contamination. When the modified BCR test was applied to mineral soils spiked with three forms of Pb (pyromorphite, hydrocerussite and nitrate salt), the added Pb was highly susceptible to dissolution in the operationally-defined "reducible" or "oxide" fraction regardless of form. When three different materials (mineral soil, organic soil and goethite) were spiked with soluble Pb nitrate, the BCR sequential extraction profiles revealed that soil organic matter was capable of retaining Pb in more stable and acid-resistant forms than silicate clay minerals or goethite. However, the BCR sequential extraction for field-collected soils with known and different sources of Pb contamination was not sufficiently discriminatory in the dissolution of soil Pb phases to allow soil Pb forms to be "fingerprinted" by this method. It is concluded that standard sequential extraction procedures are probably not very useful in predicting lability and bioavailability of Pb in contaminated soils.
Project description:Efficient and active catalysts with high selectivity for hydrocarbons and other valuable chemicals during stable operation are crucial. We have taken advantage of low-pressure oxygen plasmas to modify dendritic Cu catalysts and were able to achieve enhanced selectivity toward C2 and C3 products. Utilizing operando spectroscopic methods such as X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy (XAFS) and quasi in situ X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), we observed that the initial presence of oxides in these catalysts before the reaction plays an inferior role in determining their catalytic performance as compared to the overall catalyst morphology. This is assigned to the poor stability of the Cu x O species in these materials under the conditions of electrocatalytic conversion of CO2 (CO2RR). Our findings shed light into the strong structure/chemical state-selectivity correlation in CO2RR and open venues for the rational design of more effective catalysts through plasma pretreatments.