Real-Time Detection of Acetaldehyde in Electrochemical CO Reduction on Cu Single Crystals

Yu Qiao, Degenhart Hochfilzer, Jakob Kibsgaard, Ib Chorkendorff, Brian Seger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Copper is known to be versatile in producing various products from electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (eCO2RR), and the product preference depends on reaction environments. The literature has reported that alkaline electrolytes favor acetate production and proposed hypotheses on reaction pathways accordingly. However, our work shows acetate can also come from the fast non-Faradaic chemical oxidation of acetaldehyde in alkaline environments. This adds uncertainties into measurements of both acetaldehyde and acetate production and leads to untrustful investigations on the reaction mechanism as a consequence. With an electrochemistry-mass spectrometry combined (EC-MS) system, we not only demonstrate why and how the imprecise acetaldehyde and acetate production occurs in previous research but also present immediate detection of acetaldehyde as a function of applied potential on single crystal Cu electrodes during electrochemical CO reduction reaction (eCORR). Moreover, the quantified acetaldehyde-to-ethylene production rate ratio provides insightful information on the acetaldehyde-to-ethylene bifurcation point in eCO2RR and thus helps understand the reaction pathways.

Original languageEnglish
JournalACS Energy Letters
Pages (from-to)880-887
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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