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Scientists Develop New Method for Efficient Mass Ethanol Production

The new method, which uses electrocatalysts, could allow a more sustainable and efficient mass production of the widely used compound.

Researchers at University of Toronto have devised a new method that allows a more efficient conversion of CO2 into ethanol via the suppression of deoxygenation in the CO2RR reaction. 

In their paper, published in Nature Energy, the team of researchers proposed the use of a specific class of catalysts that led to higher production efficiency.

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Ethanol is a compound extensively used in a variety of industries. For years, scientists have been researching new ways to produce ethanol effectively and in large quantities.

One way to produce ethanol is using the carbon dioxide electroreduction reaction (CO2RR). While this allows the conversion of COinto ethanol, the Faradaic efficiency is often lacking.

The Faradaic efficiency is, essentially, the charge efficiency with which electrons are utilized to synthesize the desired chemical product. In this case, ethanol.

The new method, which uses electrocatalysts, leads to the production of ethanol with a Faradaic efficiency of (52 ± 1)% and a cathodic energy efficiency of 31%.

"The goal of our project was to boost both the selectivity towards ethanol and its production rate, all under the CO2RR reaction," Dr. Xue Wang, one of the researchers in Prof. Ted Sargent's group at University of Toronto who carried out the study, told TechXplore.

The new catalysts introduced by the researchers could allow for more sustainable and efficient mass production of ethanol.

As per TechXplore, the global ethanol market exceeds $30 billion annually. The compound is widely used as an engine fuel and a fuel additive for internal combustion engines.

"While this work is a significant step in the right direction, further progress is needed," Prof. Sargent said. "Further research in this filed will include the further improvement of selectivity, production rates, operational stability and energy-efficiency (EE), for all ethanol produced via CO2RR. Further progress efficiency remains our leading priority."

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