Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Efficient upgrading of CO to C3 fuel using asymmetric C-C coupling active sites



Lee J. Richter, Ahmad R. Kirmani, Xue Wang, Wang Ziyuan, Dinh Cao-Thang, Li Jun, Nam Dae-Hyun, Li Fengwang, Huang Chun-Wei, Tan Chih-Shan, Chen Zitao, Chi Miaofang, Gabardo M. Christine, Seiifitokaldani Ali, Todorovic Petar, Proppe Andrew, Pang Yuanjie, wang yuhang, Ip H. Alexander, Shen-Chuan Lo, shana O. kelley, David Sinton, Edward H. Sargent, Tao-Tao Zhuang, Benjamin Scheffel


The electroreduction of C1 feedgas to high-energy-density fuels provides an attractive avenue to the storage of renewable electricity. Much progress has been made to improve selectivity to C1 and C2 products, however, the selectivity to desirable high-energy-density C3 products remains relatively low. We reason that C3 electrosynthesis relies on a higher-order reaction pathway that requires the formation of multiple carbon-carbon (C-C) bonds, and thus pursue a strategy explicitly designed to couple C2 with C1 intermediates. We develop an approach wherein neighboring copper atoms having distinct electronic structures interact with two adsorbates to catalyze an asymmetric reaction. We achieve a record n-propanol Faradaic efficiency (FE) of (33 ± 1)% with a conversion rate of (4.5 ± 0.1) mA cm−2, and a record n-propanol cathodic energy conversion efficiency (EEcathodic half-cell) of 21%. The FE and EEcathodic half-cell represent a 1.3× improvement relative to previously-published CO-to-n-propanol electroreduction reports.
Nature Communications


electrochemstry, catalysis, carbon monoxide, electroredcution, quantum chemistry


Richter, L. , Kirmani, A. , Wang, X. , Ziyuan, W. , Cao-Thang, D. , Jun, L. , Dae-Hyun, N. , Fengwang, L. , Chun-Wei, H. , Chih-Shan, T. , Zitao, C. , Miaofang, C. , Christine, G. , Ali, S. , Petar, T. , Andrew, P. , Yuanjie, P. , yuhang, W. , Alexander, I. , Lo, S. , kelley, S. , Sinton, D. , Sargent, E. , Zhuang, T. and Scheffel, B. (2019), Efficient upgrading of CO to C3 fuel using asymmetric C-C coupling active sites, Nature Communications, [online], (Accessed June 13, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created November 29, 2019, Updated April 14, 2020