Modulation of Molecular Spatial Distribution and Chemisorption with Perforated Nanosheets for Ethanol Electro-oxidation

WB Wang and YB Zhu and QL Wen and YT Wang and J Xia and CC Li and MW Chen and YW Liu and HQ Li and HA Wu and TY Zhai, ADVANCED MATERIALS, 31, 1900528 (2019).

DOI: 10.1002/adma.201900528

Integrating thermodynamically favorable ethanol reforming reactions with hybrid water electrolysis will allow room-temperature production of high-value organic products and decoupled hydrogen evolution. However, electrochemical reforming of ethanol has not received adequate attention due to its low catalytic efficiency and poor selectivity, which are caused by the multiple groups and chemical bonds of ethanol. In addition to the thermodynamic properties affected by the electronic structure of the catalyst, the dynamics of molecule/ion dynamics in electrolytes also play a significant role in the efficiency of a catalyst. The relatively large size and viscosity of the ethanol molecule necessitates large channels for molecule/ion transport through catalysts. Perforated CoNi hydroxide nanosheets are proposed as a model catalyst to synergistically regulate the dynamics of molecules and electronic structures. Molecular dynamics simulations directly reveal that these nanosheets can act as a "dam" to enrich ethanol molecules and facilitate permeation through the nanopores. Additionally, the charge transfer behavior of heteroatoms modifies the local charge density to promote molecular chemisorption. As expected, the perforated nanosheets exhibit a small potential (1.39 V) and high Faradaic efficiency for the conversion of ethanol into acetic acid. Moreover, the concept in this work provides new perspectives for exploring other molecular catalysts.

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