Electrochemically producing formate by oxidizing methanol is a promising way to add value to methanol. Noble metal-based electrocatalysts, which have been extensively studied for the methanol oxidation reaction, can catalyze the complete oxidation of methanol to carbon dioxide, but not the mild oxidation to formate. As a result, exploring efficient and earth-abundant electrocatalysts for formate production from methanol is of interest. Herein, we present the electro-oxidation of methanol to formate, catalyzed by iron-substituted lanthanum cobaltite (LaCo1−xFexO3). The Fe/Co ratio in the oxides greatly influences the activity and selectivity. This effect is attributed to the higher affinity of Fe and Co to the two reactants: CH3OH and OH−, respectively. Because a balance between these affinities is favored, LaCo0.5Fe0.5O3 shows the highest formate production rate, at 24.5 mmol h−1 goxide−1, and a relatively high Faradaic efficiency of 44.4% in a series of (LaCo1−xFexO3) samples (x = 0.00, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.00) at 1.6 V versus a reversible hydrogen electrode.
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