Electrochemical production of sustainable hydrocarbon fuels from CO2 co-electrolysis in eutectic molten melts

Ossama Al-Juboori, Farooq Sher, Ushna Khalid, Muhammad Bilal Khan Niazi, George Zheng Chen

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    Because of the heavy reliance of people on limited fossil fuels as energy resources, global warming has increased to severe levels because of huge CO2 emission into the atmosphere. To mitigate this situation, a green method is presented here for the conversion of CO2/H2O into sustainable hydrocarbon fuels via electrolysis in eutectic molten salts [(KCl–LiCl; 41:59 mol %), (LiOH–NaOH; 27:73 mol %), (KOH–NaOH; 50:50 mol %), and (Li2CO3–Na2CO3–K2CO3; 43.5:31.5:25 mol %)] under the conditions of 1.5–2 V and 225–475 °C depending on the molten electrolyte used. Gas chromatography (GC) and GC–mass spectrometry (MS) techniques were employed to analyze the content of gaseous products. The electrolysis results in hydrocarbon production with maximum 59.30, 87.70, and 99% Faraday efficiencies in the case of molten chloride, molten hydroxide, and molten carbonate electrolytes under the temperatures of 375, 275, and 425 °C, respectively. GC with a flame-ionization detector and a thermal conductivity detector and GC–MS analysis confirmed that H2 and CH4 were the main products in the case of molten chlorides and hydroxides at an applied voltage of 2 V, while longer-chain hydrocarbons (>C1) were obtained only in molten carbonates at 1.5 V. In this way, electricity is transformed into chemical energy. The heating values obtained from the produced hydrocarbon fuels are satisfactory for further application. The practice of using molten salts could be a promising and encouraging technology for further fundamental investigation of sustainable hydrocarbon fuel formation with more product concentrations because of their fast electrolytic conversion rate without the use of a catalyst.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number14
    Pages (from-to)12877–12890
    Number of pages14
    JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
    Issue number34
    Early online date4 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see https://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssuschemeng.0c03314

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    The authors are grateful for the financial supports from the EPSRC (EP/J000582/1 and EP/F026412/1) and Ningbo Municipal People’s Governments (3315 Plan and 2014A35001-1).


    • Sustainable fuels
    • Molten salts
    • Co-electrolysis
    • Hydrocarbon fuels
    • Electrolyte mixture
    • H2 production
    • CH and H production
    • sustainable fuels
    • electrolyte mixture
    • hydrocarbon fuels
    • coelectrolysis
    • molten salts

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Chemical Engineering(all)
    • Chemistry(all)
    • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
    • Environmental Chemistry


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