Cascade CO2 electroreduction enables efficient carbonate-free production of ethylene

Adnan Ozden, Yuhang Wang, Fengwang Li, Mingchuan Luo, Jared Sisler, Arnaud Thevenon, Alonso Rosas-Hernández, Thomas Burdyny, Yanwei Lum, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


CO 2 electroreduction offers a route to net-zero-emission production of C 2H 4—the most-produced organic compound. However, the formation of carbonate in this process causes loss of CO 2 and a severe energy consumption/production penalty. Dividing the CO 2-to-C 2H 4 process into two cascading steps—CO 2 reduction to CO in a solid-oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) and CO reduction to C 2H 4 in a membrane electrode assembly (MEA) electrolyser—would enable carbonate-free C 2H 4 electroproduction. However, this cascade approach requires CO-to-C 2H 4 with energy efficiency well beyond demonstrations to date. Here, we present a layered catalyst structure composed of a metallic Cu, N-tolyl-tetrahydro-bipyridine, and SSC ionomer that enables efficient CO-to-C 2H 4 in a MEA electrolyser. In the full SOEC-MEA cascade approach, we achieve CO 2-to-C 2H 4 with no loss of CO 2 to carbonate and a total energy requirement of ~138 GJ (ton C 2H 4) −1, representing a ~48% reduction in energy intensity compared with the direct route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-719
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Accepted Author Manuscript


  • carbon utilization
  • catalyst design
  • CO electroreduction
  • electrolyser
  • energy efficiency
  • ethylene electrolysis
  • membrane electrode assembly
  • molecular catalyst
  • solid-oxide electrolyser


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