Modeling a CuCl(aq)/HCl(aq) Electrolyzer using Thermodynamics and Electrochemical Kinetics

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Research efforts on the CuCl(aq)/HCl(aq) electrolyzer would greatly benefit from the ability to quantify the dissipative processes that undesirably increase the cell's applied potential, Ecell, which decreases its efficiency. To date, little is known about what impact further improvements to active surface area, extent of CuCl(aq) conversion and ohmic resistance would exactly have on the electrolyzer performance. To better understand how this electrolyzer can be improved, a model was developed to quantify and separate the effects of electrochemical kinetics, membrane transport and open circuit potential, EOCP, on Ecell for a given current density. By employing data obtained from previous studies with electrochemical cells into the developed model, it was possible to calculate Ecell values that agreed with data collected from a lab scale electrolyzer using just one adjustable parameter, the Nernst diffusion layer at limiting current. The model was then used to identify the predicted Ecell contributions as a function of CuCl(aq) conversion, active electrode area and ohmic resistance. It was found that the extent of CuCl(aq) conversion can dramatically impact the electrolyzer electrode kinetics and EOCP. More importantly, as CuCl(aq) conversion increased, the Ecell values needed consistently increased to keep the same current density. Overall, Ecell could be most readily reduced by improving Rohm, whereas improvements to electrode kinetics have limited impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1174
Number of pages8
JournalElectrochimica Acta
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Electrochemistry


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