Local Reaction Environment Deviations within Gas Diffusion Electrode Pores for CO<sub>2</sub> Electrolysis

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Abstract

The local conditions inside a gas diffusion electrode (GDE) pore, especially in the electrical double layer (EDL) region, influence the charge transfer reactions and the selectivity of desired CO2ER products. Most GDE computational models ignore the EDL or are limited in their applicability at high potentials. In this work, we present a continuum model to describe the local environment inside a catalytic pore at varying potentials, electrolyte concentrations and pore diameters. The systems studied in this work are based on an Ag catalyst in contact with KHCO3 solution. Our study shows that steric effects dominate the local environment at high cathodic potentials (≪−25 mV vs pzc at the OHP), leading to a radial drop of CO2 concentration. We also observe a drop in pH value within 1 nm of the reaction plane due to electrostatic repulsion and attraction of OH− and H+ ions, respectively. We studied the influence of pore radii (1-10 nm) on electric field and concentrations. Pores with a radius smaller than 5 nm show a higher mean potential, which lowers the mean CO2 concentration. Pores with a favourable local environment can be designed by regulating the ratio between the pore radius and Debye length.