Open-cell Metallic Foams for the Electrochemical Conversion of Biomass-derived Compounds

Abstract

The electrochemical conversion is a sustainable way for the production of added-value products, operating in mild conditions, using in-situ generated hydrogen/oxygen by water and avoiding the use of high H2/O2 pressures. The aim of this work is to investigate the electrocatalytic conversion of 5-hydroxymetilfurfural (HMF) and D-glucose, in alkaline media, using metallic open-cell foams based-catalysts. The electrochemical hydrogenation of HMF to 2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)furan (BHMF) was performed using nanostructured Ag, deposited by galvanic displacement (GD) or electrodeposition (ED), on Cu foam, obtaining AgCu bimetallic nanoparticles (ED) or dendrites (GD) which enhanced electroactive surface area, charge and mass transfer, than bare foams. In diluted 0.02M HMF solutions, Ag/Cu samples selectively produce BHMF; the large surface area enhanced the productivity, compared to their 2D counterparts. Furthermore, at more concentrated solutions (0.05 – 0.10M) a gradually decrease of selectivity is observed. The performances of the electrodes is stable during the catalytic tests but a Cu-enrichment of particles occurred. The performances of Ni foam-based catalysts, obtained by calcination of Ni foam or by electrodeposition of Ni-hydroxide/Ni and Ni particle/Ni, were firstly investigated for the selective electrochemical oxidation of D-glucose toward gluconic acid (GO) and glucaric acid (GA). Then, the calcined catalyst was chosen to study the influence of the reaction conditions on the reaction mechanism. The GO and GA selectivities increase with the charge passed, while the formation of by-products from C-C cleavage/retro-aldol process is maximum at low charge. The fructose obtained from glucose isomerization favours the formation of by-products. The best glucose/NaOH ratio is between 0.5 and 0.1: higher values suppress the OER, while lower values favour the formation of low molecular weight products. The increases of the potential enhance the GO selectivity, nevertheless higher GA selectivity is observed at 0.6 – 0.7V vs SCE, confirmed by catalytic test performed in gluconate (30-35% GA selectivity)

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