The development of an efficient catalyst system for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide into energy-rich products is a major research topic. Here we report the catalytic ability of polyacrylonitrile-based heteroatomic carbon nanofibres for carbon dioxide reduction into carbon monoxide, via a metal-free, renewable and cost-effective route. The carbon nanofibre catalyst exhibits negligible overpotential (0.17 V) for carbon dioxide reduction and more than an order of magnitude higher current density compared with the silver catalyst under similar experimental conditions. The carbon dioxide reduction ability of carbon nanofibres is attributed to the reduced carbons rather than to electronegative nitrogen atoms. The superior performance is credited to the nanofibrillar structure and high binding energy of key intermediates to the carbon nanofibre surfaces. The finding may lead to a new generation of metal-free and non-precious catalysts with much greater efficiency than the existing noble metal catalysts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)