Challenges in Scale up of Electrochemical CO2 Reduction to Formate Integrated with Product Extraction Using Electrodialysis

Amandeep Kaur, Bongkyu Kim, Richard Dinsdale, Alan Guwy, Eileen Yu, Giuliano Premier

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BACKGROUND - The concept of carbon dioxide (CO2) conversion to formate has attracted increasing interest in recent years and various small-scale studies are present in the literature. However, upscaling of electrochemical CO2 reduction comes with many challenges and there are very few reports available on it. In this study, we present a scalable three-chamber reactor system for electrochemical CO2 reduction to formate, a precursor suitable for the production of fuels, pharmaceuticals and fertilizers and its extraction as pure formic acid by electrodialysis.
RESULTS- The reactor produced 11.7 g L–1 formic acid in 6 h, i.e. 1.95 g L–1 h–1 at −1.8 V applied potential, 5 mol L–1 KOH as an electrolyte, GDE (gas diffusion electrode) cathode with SnO2 catalyst and Nafion™ 200 membrane. The maximum Faradaic efficiency achieved was 38%. In addition, recovery of the formate is equally important as its production for use as feedstock to form chemicals. We therefore also investigated the extraction of formic acid through conventional electrodialysis (CED) and bipolar membrane electrodialysis (BMED). The formic acid was extracted with 88% recovery using CED and 46% with BMED. Furthermore, BMED resulted in recovery of >95% K+ as base and 12 L pure CO2 for possible recycling to the electrochemical cell.
CONCLUSION - We consider this study to provide essential empirical evidence on factors influencing the scale-up and subsequent performance of a liquid electrolyte-based electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR) system to formate and its extraction at scale. However, optimized systems and operating strategies still need further investigation, and constituent materials, particularly in terms of membranes and cathode catalyst, need to be developed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6812
Pages (from-to)2461-2471
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology
Issue number9
Early online date30 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Scale-up
  • electrochemical cell
  • CO2 reduction
  • formate
  • Electrodialysis
  • KOH recovery


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