263153 Simultaneous Generation of Mesoxalic Acid and Electricity From Glycerol On Au Anode Catalyst in Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Reactors

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 9:10 AM
315 (Convention Center )
Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang and Wenzhen Li, Chemical Engineering, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI

Simultaneous Generation of Mesoxalic Acid and Electricity from Glycerol on Au Anode Catalyst in Anion Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells

Le Xin, Zhiyong Zhang, and Wenzhen Li

Biomass is an intriguing renewable and carbon-neutral resource, and is expected to share a big portion in our future energy landscape. Glycerol is mass-produced as a low value by-product (0.3 US$ kg-1) in biodiesel manufacturing process. Glycerol is a highly functionalized molecule and has great potential to constitute major building blocks for future production of novel polymers, fine chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, etc. Moreover, Glycerol has also been considered a potential fuel for direct alcohol fuel cells (DAFC), due to its relatively low price, simple purification and storage, as well as its non-volatile and environmental friendly properties.

From energy conservation, economic, and environmental aspect, we herein report selective electro-catalytic oxidation of glycerol for cogeneration of mesoxalic acid and electricity on Au anode catalyst in anion exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs) reactor (Scheme 1). Small Au nanoparticles (3.5 nm) were uniformly deposited on carbon black with a 40 wt% loading through a solution phase method. An AEMFC with the Au/C anode catalyst and a Fe-based cathode catalyst exhibited a peak power density of 57.9 mW cm-2 at 80C. Valuable mesoxalic acid was produced with a high selectivity of 46% from electro-oxidation of glycerol on Au/C at the fuel cell operation voltage of 0.3 V, while very small amount of mesoxalic acid (selectivity: < 3%) was obtained on a Pt/C anode catalyst in AEMFC. The product distribution was found to be dependent on the anode overpotential. At 1.2 V vs. SHE in an electrolysis cell, glycolic acid was the major product (selectivity: 65%), and no mesoxalic acid was observed. Based on the product analysis, it was discovered that Au facilitated deeper-oxidation of glycerol to the fully-oxidized C3 mesoxalic acid, not C-C cleavage under a mild potential range (0.4-0.7 V vs. SHE), which fortunately is within the fuel cell working voltage region.


Scheme 1. Illustration of cogeneration of electricity and mesoxalic acid on Au anode catalyst AEMFCs reactor


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