Many electrocatalysts can efficiently convert CO2 to CO. However, the further conversion of CO to higher-value products was hindered by the low activity of the CO reduction reaction and the consequent lack of mechanistic insights for designing better catalysts. A flow-type reactor could potentially improve the reaction rate of CO reduction. However, the currently available configurations would pose great challenges in reaction mechanism understanding due to their complex nature and/or lack of precise potential control. Here we report, in a standard electrochemical cell with a three-electrode setup, a supported bulk polycrystalline copper powder electrode reduces CO to hydrocarbons and multicarbon oxygenates with dramatically increased activities of more than 100 mA cm-2 and selectivities of more than 80%. The high activity and selectivity that was achieved demonstrates the practical feasibility of electrochemical CO or CO2 (with a tandem strategy) conversion and enables the experimental exploration of the CO reduction mechanism to further reduced products.
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