(600d) Low-Energy Catalytic Electrolysis for Simultaneous Hydrogen Evolution and Lignin Depolymerization

Authors: 
Du, X., Georgia Institute of Technology
Liu, W., Georgia Institute of Technology
Zhang, Z., Georgia Institute of Technology
Mulyadi, A., Georgia Institute of Technology
Brittain, A., Georgia Institute of Technolocy
Deng, Y., Georgia Institute of Technology
Here, a new proton-exchange-membrane electrolysis is presented, in which lignin was used as the hydrogen source at the anode for hydrogen production. Either polyoxometalate (POM) or FeCl3 was used as the catalyst and charge-transfer agent at the anode. Over 90% Faraday efficiency was achieved. In a thermal-insulation reactor, the heat energy could be maintained at a very low level for continuous operation. Compared to the best alkaline--water electrolysis reported in literature, the electrical-energy consumption could be 40% lower with lignin electrolysis. At the anode, the Kraft lignin (KL) was oxidized to aromatic chemicals by POM or FeCl3, and reduced POM or Fe ions were regenerated during the electrolysis. Structure analysis of the residual KL indicated a reduction of the amount of hydroxyl groups and the cleavage of ether bonds. The results suggest that POM- or FeCl3-mediated electrolysis can significantly reduce the electrolysis energy consumption in hydrogen production and, simultaneously, depolymerize lignin to low-molecular-weight value-added aromatic chemicals.