Pulsed electrochemical synthesis of formate using Pb electrodes

Martijn J.W. Blom, Vera Smulders, Wim P.M. van Swaaij, Sascha R.A. Kersten, Guido Mul*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Lead cathodes show decreasing Faradaic Efficiency (FE) in electrochemical conversion of CO2 to formate, favoring hydrogen, within minutes of operation in KHCO3 electrolyte at −1 to −1.3 V vs RHE. Periodic anodic polarization (pulsed electrochemistry) is demonstrated to result in a high time-averaged FE towards formate. Specifically, an anodic polarization time of 0.1–1 s is sufficient to obtain a Pb-surface providing an averaged formate FE of 30–50%, when the cathodic polarization time is limited to a few seconds. A Pourbaix diagram and Raman spectra are provided, which show that PbCO3 is formed on the surface of the cathode in KHCO3 electrolyte at anodic potential (0.05 V vs RHE), which compound is likely inducing the high FE towards formate. Our method thus provides a means to operate Pb electrodes in electrochemical CO2 reduction with high stability, at a low energy penalty.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118420
JournalApplied catalysis B: environmental
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2020


  • Deactivation
  • Electrochemical CO reduction
  • Formate
  • Periodic anodic polarization
  • Pulsed electrochemistry
  • 22/2 OA procedure


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