Electrosynthesis of chlorine from seawater-like solution through single-atom catalysts

Nat Commun. 2023 Apr 29;14(1):2475. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-38129-w.


The chlor-alkali process plays an essential and irreplaceable role in the modern chemical industry due to the wide-ranging applications of chlorine gas. However, the large overpotential and low selectivity of current chlorine evolution reaction (CER) electrocatalysts result in significant energy consumption during chlorine production. Herein, we report a highly active oxygen-coordinated ruthenium single-atom catalyst for the electrosynthesis of chlorine in seawater-like solutions. As a result, the as-prepared single-atom catalyst with Ru-O4 moiety (Ru-O4 SAM) exhibits an overpotential of only ~30 mV to achieve a current density of 10 mA cm-2 in an acidic medium (pH = 1) containing 1 M NaCl. Impressively, the flow cell equipped with Ru-O4 SAM electrode displays excellent stability and Cl2 selectivity over 1000 h continuous electrocatalysis at a high current density of 1000 mA cm-2. Operando characterizations and computational analysis reveal that compared with the benchmark RuO2 electrode, chloride ions preferentially adsorb directly onto the surface of Ru atoms on Ru-O4 SAM, thereby leading to a reduction in Gibbs free-energy barrier and an improvement in Cl2 selectivity during CER. This finding not only offers fundamental insights into the mechanisms of electrocatalysis but also provides a promising avenue for the electrochemical synthesis of chlorine from seawater electrocatalysis.

PMID:37120624 | PMC:PMC10148798 | DOI:10.1038/s41467-023-38129-w


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