A Scalable Method for Preparing Cu Catalysts for Electrochemical CO2 Reduction to C2+ Products: Anodic Halogenation and Subsequent Surface Reconstruction


One crucial way to mitigate the rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere and the harmful climate change effects caused by this increase is to capture CO2 and, if possible, convert the carbon therein to a useable product. However, there is currently no known process or technology to create, at scale, the electrocatalysts needed to power a reduction reaction for a large amount of CO2 to new products where carbon atoms are bonded together.

Palmore and colleagues’ invention demonstrates a way to fill that technological gap. They have developed a method for preparing copper catalysts that consistently and selectively reduces CO2 to C2+ products such as ethylene.

Market Opportunity

The atmospheric concentration of CO2 reached ~420 parts per million (ppm) in July 2022, a drastic increase from pre-industrial levels. To mitigate the worst effects of climate change, it will be necessary to slow the rate at which more CO2 is released. Ways to accomplish this goal include capturing carbon directly from the air or removing it from the flue gas at a fossil fuel power plant before that gas can be released into the air.

To make this process more economically viable, it would be helpful to transform the captured CO2 into useful products like CO2-based chemicals and fuels. But while copper is known to have intrinsic abilities to reduce CO2 into C2+ products, existing catalysts have not shown the ability to reliably reduce CO2 into C2+ products, or chains of multiple carbon atoms that can be used in new molecules.

Innovation and Meaningful Advantages

Palmore and colleagues’ method for preparing copper catalysts is based solely on electrochemical process—specifically, the controlled anodic halogenation of copper. This process is simple and scalable, making it ideal for the production of copper catalysts needed for the industrial scale transformation of CO2 into carbon products. The same process can be used to regenerate catalysts with declining activity, adding to the overall efficiency of the process. Importantly, the process creates copper catalysts with a high density of defect sites, which is a crucial factor for spurring carbon-carbon coupling reactions. Altogether, the process shows an efficiency at more than 70% of creating C2+ products from the electrochemical reduction of CO2.

Collaboration Opportunity

We are seeking an investment opportunity to further develop this innovative technology.

Principal Investigator

G. Tayhas Palmore, PhD
Elaine I. Savage Professor of Engineering, Professor of Chemistry
Brown University

IP Information

US Utility US20220042198A1, Published February 10, 2022


Victoria Campbell, PhD
Director of Business Development
Brown Tech ID 3016
Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Brown Technology Innovations
350 Eddy Street - Box 1949
Providence, RI 02903
Tayhas Palmore
Taehee Kim
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