Combinatorial Screening of Bimetallic Electrocatalysts for Nitrogen Reduction to Ammonia Using a High-Throughput Gas Diffusion Electrode Cell Design

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Abstract

The electrochemical nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) is a promising alternative to the current greenhouse gas emission intensive process to produce ammonia (NH3) from nitrogen (N2). However, finding an electrocatalyst that promotes NRR over the competing hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) has proven to be difficult. This difficulty could potentially be addressed by accelerating the electrocatalyst development for NRR by orders of magnitude using high-throughput (HTP) workflows. In this work, we developed a HTP gas diffusion electrode (GDE) cell to screen up to 16 electrocatalysts in parallel. The key innovation of the cell is the use of expanded Polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) gas diffusion layers (GDL) which simplifies the handling of catalyst arrays compared to carbon fabrics and enables sufficient N2 mass transport. We demonstrate the robustness of the HTP workflow by screening 528 bimetallic catalysts of composition AB (A,B = Ag, Al, Au, Co, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Ni, Pd, Re, Ru, W) for NRR activity. None of the materials produced ammonia significantly over background level which emphasizes the difficulty of finding active electrocatalysts for NRR and narrows down the search space for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124506
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Electrochemical Society
Volume169
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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