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PhD defence

The Optimization and Scale-Up of the Electrochemical Reduction of CO₂ to Formate

  • M.F. Philips
Wednesday 8 November 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. M.T.M. Koper
  • Prof. dr. G.J.M. Gruter
  • dr. K.J.P. Schouten


     In this thesis, we explain why formate is one of the best products to pursue for electrochemical CO2 reduction (ECCR) and why a gas diffusion electrode is the best technology to use for this reaction. GDEs allow electrochemical reactions to occur at higher rates by enhancing the mass transport of gaseous reactants to the catalyst. These electrodes are made of two layers: the catalyst layer and the gas diffusion layer (GDL). A design of experiments is used in Chapter 3 to understand how multiple factors in a production method for GDLs can be adjusted to tune the characteristics of the GDL. In Chapter 4, catalyst layer characteristics are studied with the GDL to determine how these factors affect the overall performance of the electrode. The best-performing electrodes screened in this study show nearly 100% current efficiency at current densities of up to 400 mA/cm2 for two hours. Additionally, one electrode operated at a current density of 200 mA/cm2 for 48 hours at a current efficiency of 85% and remained working with a current efficiency above 50% for 124 hours. Chapter 5 focuses on scaling up the results in Chapter 4 from 10 cm2 to 200 cm2. The 200 cm2 electrode achieved a current efficiency of 92.5% during the first 15-minute experiment and then a current efficiency of 89% for an additional 60 minutes. This successfully demonstrated that our GDE could be scaled up without a sacrifice in current efficiency, as seen in other types of ECCR technologies.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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