(511e) Chemical Transformations Using Electocatalysis: From Small Molecules to Fast Pyrolysis Oils
There is a growing interest in using electrochemical methods for transformation of organic materials. Electrochemical Hydrogenation (ECH) is one such transformation that has multiple applications. Conventional hydrogenation technologies require elevated temperatures and externally supplied high pressure (2000psi) hydrogen. The same reactions can be performed using an electrochemical reactor at close to room temperature and with no externally supplied hydrogen. Hydrogen in ECH is being delivered as a combination of an H+ and one electron, and the added value comes from avoiding the handling and transport of H2. ECH has been a focus of interest for niche applications, such as the selective reduction of organic substrates, including biomass conversion. In our studies we have looked three main hypotheses: (1) Selective ECH of the oxygenates occurs through a proton-coupled electron transfer (2) Through tailored electrode structures, ECH can efficiently and economically transform low value and/or low energy materials to high value and high energy products. (3) Mixture components will compete for active catalyst sites and that by controlling the electrode structure and active sites the overall rate can be improved, the desired selectivity increased and the production of molecular hydrogen minimized. Studies were conducted in flow reactors with novel catalysts, using a series of molecules important to biomass conversion and which allow identification of the impact of functional groups on the reaction. We have also studied fast pyrolysis oil upgrading to perform bio-oil hydrogenation to stabilize the more reactive compounds using protons and water as the hydrogen source at room temperature. Promising results have been observed where significant hydrogenation has been found. A description of work conducted and discussion of results will be presented.