High-pressure electrochemistry: a new frontier in decarbonization


The chemical manufacturing of commodity chemicals, responsible for approximately 24% of global carbon emissions, poses a critical environmental challenge. With escalating demand due to economic development, urgent decarbonization strategies are imperative. Traditional electrochemical synthesis encounters hindrances, especially mass transfer limitations at relevant current densities, primarily attributed to gas phase reactants and products. In this Perspective, we explore the viability of high-pressure electrochemistry as a transformative solution. Our analysis reveals that applying pressure can overcome mass transfer limitations, enhance selectivity, and improve overall activity, all while minimizing energy consumption and capital expenditure for distributed production processes. We shed light on the influence of pressure on Pourbaix diagrams, electric double layer, electrolyte activity, conductivity, electrostriction-enhanced selectivities, catalyst activity, and stability. Additionally, insights are provided into the design and operation of existing reactors and tools for high-pressure electrochemistry, along with the imperative for future fundamental studies. In the context of decentralized production, we argue that the marginal differential capital costs associated with high-pressure reactors become inconsequential. Ultimately, our work seeks to pave the way for the decarbonization of the chemical industry by establishing innovative pathways for the electrochemical synthesis of commodity chemicals, presenting high-pressure electrochemical synthesis as a potential paradigm shift in this transformative journey.


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Kani, N.C., Olusegun, S., Chauhan, R., Gauthier, J.A., & Singh, M.R.. 2023. High-pressure electrochemistry: a new frontier in decarbonization. EES Catalysis, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.1039/d3ey00284e