Density functional theory-based determination of the mechanism of electrochemical reduction of CO₂ to CO by Co(salen) complex


We examine a possible mechanism for the electrochemical reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide with cobalt salen complex, Co(salen), as the catalyst. Density functional theory was used to calculate the ground state energies and reaction energies of possible reaction intermediates. The results indicate that the reduction from [Co(salen)-CO2]- to Co(salen)-CO proceeds via a Co(salen)-COOH intermediate through a proton transfer and a subsequent concerted proton-electron transfer that releases one molecule of water. The catalyst is then regenerated after carbon monoxide dissociates from the complex.