The Gas Diffusion Electrode (GDE) is a porous electrode that contains a hydrophilic and hydrophobic side. This allows the direct supply of reactive gases via the hydrophobic side to an electrochemical process in the liquid medium.

GDE is typically used to establish a well-controlled ‘three-phase interface’ between the supplied gas, the aqueous electrolyte, and the solid electrode. The solid phase can be a porous carbon (graphite/activated carbon) or metal layer, like for example copper and tin, and contain immobilized (bio/electro)catalysts. These GDE’s were recently also successfully applied for non-aqueous electrolytes.

Typical  processes that benefit from enhanced gas supply are:

  • CO2 (bio)electroreduction (electrosynthesis) at near-ambient pressure,
  • In-situ hydrogen peroxide generation,
  • Oxygen reduction in low-temperature fuel cells,
  • Organics oxidation in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs),
  • Reclamation of metals from diluted waste streams (1-10 ppm range), without the application of additives and easy recovery of the metal oxide precipitates,
  • Electrosynthesis of nanoparticles with well-defined sizes and uniform particle size distribution.

Our offer

By partnering with VITO you get direct access to knowhow on application development using GDE in bio/electrochemical processes. VITO can supply, modify or co-develop their VITOCoRe®/VITOCaSe® electrodes for testing, with tunable geometries, porosities, compositions, and electrocatalytic activity. Custom electrocatalysts can be incorporated into the existing production process to get unique conversion properties.

Your benefits

The use of VITO’s GDE’s allows 1) the elimination of mass transport limitation: the direct feed of gaseous reactants improves mass transfer to the reaction site, 2) to conduct reactions with highly dispersed  bio- or electrocatalysts in porous matrices with intrinsic high surface areas and 3) robust operation without any leakage or breakthrough of the liquid phase.

Various levels of cooperation are possible, ranging from application testing to joint development programs

  • VITO combines know-how in both electrochemical conversion and electro-separation
  • Has developed GDE’s in different configurations (planar, tubular etc.) and already diffused samples with 10-400 cm² active area for application testing
  • Builds on experience in biocatalysis and heterogeneous catalysis, with a strong focus on electroreduction reactions to convert CO2 into chemicals
  • Has developed GDE’s up to 1 m² active area (patented)
  • Is a world-class institute for membrane technology, the development of separators (Zirfon PERL® supplied by AGFA), new separator concepts and combination of membranes with electrodes
Spark of life designer lamp

Spark of Life designer lamp using tubular VITOCoRe® GDE's (Credit: Teresa Van Dongen,

Large-Scale Segmented GDE's

Large-Scale Segmented GDE's (85 x 85 cm)

Large-Scale Segmented GDE's

Large-Scale Segmented GDE's (85 x 85 cm)

Suggested further reading

Sharma, M., Alvarez-Gallego, Y., Achouak, W., Pant, D., Sharma, P. and Dominguez-Benetton, X. 2019. Electrode material properties for designing effective microbial electrosynthesis systems. Journal of Materials Chemistry A.

Hiegemann, H., Littfinski, T., Krimmler, S., Lübken, M., Klein, D., Schmelz, K.G., Ooms, K., Pant, D., Wichern, M. 2019. Performance and inorganic fouling of a submergible 255 L prototype microbial fuel cell module during continuous long-term operation with real municipal wastewater under practical conditions. Bioresource Technology. 122227.

Rossi, R., Jones, D., Myung, J., Zikmund, E., Yang, W., Gallego, Y.A., Pant, D., Evans, P.J., Page, M.A., Cropek, D.M. and Logan, B.E., 2019. Evaluating a multi-panel air cathode through electrochemical and biotic tests. Water Research. 148, pp.51-59.

Bouwman, B., van Houtven, D., Pant, D., Alvarez-Gallego, Y., Vanbroekhoven, K., 2019. Carbon based electrode with large geometric dimensions. Patent WO/2019/068488.

Srikanth, S., Singh, D., Vanbroekhoven, K., Pant, D., Kumar, M., Puri, S.K. and Ramakumar, S.S.V., 2018. Electro-biocatalytic conversion of carbon dioxide to alcohols using gas diffusion electrode. Bioresource technology. 265, pp.45-51.

Project EnOp

Project E2C