A New Type of Catalyst for Direct Electrochemical CO2 Reduction To Hydrocarbons

G. Charles Dismukes (Inventor), Anders Laursen (Inventor), Martha Greenblatt (Inventor), Karin CALVINHO (Inventor)

Research output: Innovation


Nickel phosphides catalyze the reduction of CO 2 to gaseous C1 and C2 hydrocarbons Invention Summary: Development of a carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) reduction catalyst to generate valuable hydrocarbons for fuel or chemical feedstock production in a commercial electrolyzer has long been an unmet need preventing global development of carbon neutral technologies. Researchers at Rutgers University have “designed” transition metal phosphide electrocatalysts to meet these needs. Currently, mainly copper-based catalysts has shown promise for generating simple hydrocarbons such as methane (C1) and ethylene/ethane (C2). C1 and C2 hydrocarbons are the simplest building blocks for chemical synthesis of most industrial products and are well-known feedstocks in the chemical industry. Current catalysts are limited by lost power efficiency due to one the electrical over-potential needed to produce C1 and C2 and two the losses due to concomitant H2 production and strong variation with current density (flux). Both problems originate in the catalyst. Nickel phosphides and doped derivatives form distinct crystalline structure types tweaking the chemical reactivity towards C1/C2 products. Tuning the structure allows the tuning of the chemical, physical and electrical properties to achieve the best match with application. One of these phosphides, Ni 5 P 4 , which has a high electrical conductivity, is most efficient when operated at low potentials (~-700 mV vs RHE) in CO 2 saturated carbonate solution electrolysis. Its performance exceeds that of copper, the archetypical CO 2 reduction electro- catalyst. Comparison of Ni 5 P 4 to other structure types in the nickel phosphide family shows the former as the more selective towards C1 products. Applications: Renewable hydrocarbon production from water electrolysis Renewable fuels production Feedstock methane and ethylene production for the chemical industry (e.g. polymer industry - PE, PET, PVC etc.) Electrical energy storage CO 2 emissions recycling/mitigation Advantages: Lower material cost than copper catalysts Lower operating cost than copper electrodes Renewable sources of methane/ethylene (CO 2 & water) When used with renewable electricity — negative CO 2 emissions Inherently sustainable and globally scalable. Intellectual Property Status: US Patent 8,932,977 Related Publication: Calvinho, et al, Transition metal phosphides as CO 2 reduction catalysts , 229 th The Electrochemical Society Meeting, May 29 th San Diego 2016
Original languageEnglish (US)
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


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