Öhl, D.; Franzen, D.; Paulisch, M.; Dieckhöfer, S.; Barwe, S.; Andronescu, C.; Manke, I.; Turek, T.; Schuhmann, W.: Catalytic Reactivation of Industrial Oxygen Depolarized Cathodes by in situ Generation of Atomic Hydrogen. ChemSusChem 12 (2019), p. 2732-2739
Electrocatalytically active materials on the industrial as well as on the laboratory scale may suffer from chemical instability during operation, air exposure, or storage in the electrolyte. A strategy to recover the loss of electrocatalytic activity is presented. Oxygen-depolarized cathodes (ODC), analogous to those that are utilized in industrial brine electrolysis, are analyzed: the catalytic activity of the electrodes upon storage (4 weeks) under industrial process conditions (30 wt% NaOH, without operation) diminishes. This phenomenon occurs as a consequence of surface oxidation and pore blockage, as revealed by scanning electron microscopy, focused ion beam milling, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and Raman spectroscopy. Potentiodynamic cycling of the oxidized electrodes to highly reductive potentials and the formation of “nascent” hydrogen re-reduces the electrode material, ultimately recovering the former catalytic activity.