Research (Wash D C). 2022 Jun 27;2022:9837109. doi: 10.34133/2022/9837109. eCollection 2022.
Electrocatalytic urea oxidation reaction (UOR) is regarded as an effective yet challenging approach for the degradation of urea in wastewater into harmless N2 and CO2. To overcome the sluggish kinetics, catalytically active sites should be rationally designed to maneuver the multiple key steps of intermediate adsorption and desorption. Herein, we demonstrate that metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) can provide an ideal platform for tailoring binary active sites to facilitate the rate-determining steps, achieving remarkable electrocatalytic activity toward UOR. Specifically, the MOF (namely, NiMn0.14-BDC) based on Ni/Mn sites and terephthalic acid (BDC) ligands exhibits a low voltage of 1.317 V to deliver a current density of 10 mA cm-2. As a result, a high turnover frequency (TOF) of 0.15 s-1 is achieved at a voltage of 1.4 V, which enables a urea degradation rate of 81.87% in 0.33 M urea solution. The combination of experimental characterization with theoretical calculation reveals that the Ni and Mn sites play synergistic roles in maneuvering the evolution of urea molecules and key reaction intermediates during the UOR, while the binary Ni/Mn sites in MOF offer the tunability for electronic structure and d-band center impacting on the intermediate evolution. This work provides important insights into active site design by leveraging MOF platform and represents a solid step toward highly efficient UOR with MOF-based electrocatalysts.