(205g) Supported Cu Electrocatalysts for Electrocatalytic Hydrogenation and Hydrogenolysis of Furfural

Jung, S. - Presenter, City College of New York
Biddinger, E., City College of New York
Furfural (FF) is a C5 biomass-derived platform chemical that can be obtained by hydrolysis and dehydration of lignocellulose. By chemical hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis (CH) of FF, furfural alcohol (FA), an industrial adhesive intermediate, and 2-methyl furan (MF), a promising biofuel, can be produced[1, 2]. Traditionally, CH of FF provides significant selectivity towards to FA and MF on Cu-based catalysts, but it requires externally supplied hydrogen gas and high temperature or/and high pressure[3].

In contrast to CH, electrochemical hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis (ECH) allows for the conversion of FF to FA and MF without external hydrogen gas, high temperature or high pressure. This process becomes more viable when excess electricity from renewable sources is used for ECH of FF.

Results of previous studies showed that strongly acidic electrolytes produced both MF and FA [4], while higher pHs mainly produced FA [5] on bulk metallic electrodes. In ECH of FF, Cu foil electrodes also showed remarkable selectivity (c.a. 80%) to MF in 0.5 M H2SO4 [4]. Also, substantial selectivities of FA with carbonate pH 10 buffer (80%) on a Cu foil [6] and with 0.2 M NH4Cl (79%) on a Ni foil [5] have been demonstrated.

We have experimentally shown further relationships between products and reaction conditions in acidic electrolytes on Cu foil electrodes where product yield significantly depended on the current density when equivalent charge was transferred to the system. However, product selectivity depended on pH, not anions of electrolytes.

Here, we developed high surface area supported Cu electrocatalysts to investigate the impact of morphology on selectivity and activity in comparison with Cu foils in 0.2 M NH4Cl and 0.5 M H2SO4 electrolytes. Electrocatalysts were characterized utilizing XRD, SEM, TEM and XPS to discern the differences in catalytic performance. Product analysis was performed with gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS).


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