Cation-Driven Increases of CO<sub>2</sub>Utilization in a Bipolar Membrane Electrode Assembly for CO<sub>2</sub>Electrolysis

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Advancing reaction rates for electrochemical CO2 reduction in membrane electrode assemblies (MEAs) have boosted the promise of the technology while exposing new shortcomings. Among these is the maximum utilization of CO2, which is capped at 50% (CO as targeted product) due to unwanted homogeneous reactions. Using bipolar membranes in an MEA (BPMEA) has the capability of preventing parasitic CO2 losses, but their promise is dampened by poor CO2 activity and selectivity. In this work, we enable a 3-fold increase in the CO2 reduction selectivity of a BPMEA system by promoting alkali cation (K+) concentrations on the catalyst's surface, achieving a CO Faradaic efficiency of 68%. When compared to an anion exchange membrane, the cation-infused bipolar membrane (BPM) system shows a 5-fold reduction in CO2 loss at similar current densities, while breaking the 50% CO2 utilization mark. The work provides a combined cation and BPM strategy for overcoming CO2 utilization issues in CO2 electrolyzers.