Competition and selectivity during parallel evolution of bromine, chlorine and oxygen on IrOx electrodes

Johannes G. Vos, Anirudh Venugopal, Wilson A. Smith, Marc T.M. Koper

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Abstract

During hydrogen production for (renewable) energy storage, direct seawater electrolysis offers several notable advantages over freshwater electrolysis. Unfortunately, it is also hindered by possible oxidation reactions of chloride and (to a lesser extent) bromide, which can occur in parallel to the evolution of oxygen and form harmful by-products at the anode. Although the respective oxidation reactions of Br- and Cl- have been researched quite well on Pt, not much is known concerning bromide oxidation and its effect on the evolution of chlorine and oxygen for metal oxides, which are the class of electrocatalysts overwhelmingly used in industry. Using glassy carbon-supported iridium oxide (IrOx) as a model system, we investigated the oxidation behaviour of this well-known oxygen evolution catalyst in an acidic Br-/Cl- electrolyte. We first briefly discuss the solution chemistry and oxidation products that may be expected. Model studies were performed of the parallel evolution of Br2, Cl2 and O2 to increase the understanding of the anodic competition problem, with a special focus on the selectivity towards oxygen. Using rotating ring-disk voltammetry and UV–Vis spectroscopy, our results suggest that bromide and chloride competitively absorb on IrOx, but do not alter each other's oxidation reaction mechanisms, which both seem to adhere best to a Volmer-Heyrovský mechanism. We also find that bromide and chloride adsorption significantly slow down the oxygen evolution reaction, in an additive way. Even a relatively small amount of bromide highly affected the oxygen evolution selectivity. Formation of the interhalogen compound BrCl, which is possible in a mixed Br-/Cl- electrolyte, does not seem to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-110
JournalJournal of Catalysis
Volume389
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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