423232 Investigation of Biofuel Production By Electrochemical Hydrogenation of Furfural over Copper-Based Electrocatalysts

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Exhibit Hall 1 (Salt Palace Convention Center)
Sungyup Jung, Department of Chemical Engineering, City College of New York, New York, NY and Elizabeth J. Biddinger, Department of Chemical Engineering, The City College of New York, New York, NY

Furfural (FF) is a promising biofuel platform, which is produced by the hydrolysis and dehydration from lignocellulose, because it offers various derivatives that can be used for fuel components such as furfuryl alcohol (FA) and 2-methyl furan (MF) [1, 2].

Traditionally, FA and MF have been produced from FF using chemical hydrogenation, with copper-based catalysts being the most used [3]. While chemical hydrogenation with copper-based catalysts provides remarkable selectivity, it requires high temperatures (200 – 300oC) and substantial amounts of external H2 as a feedstock. However, if chemical hydrogenation is replaced by electrochemical hydrogenation, external H2and high temperature are not required. The hydrogen ions in the aqueous electrolyte can be readily transferred electrochemically at room temperature to do the reduction. Despite these advantages, FF electrochemical hydrogenation (ECH) has not been widely investigated. A variety of electrocatalysts and electrolytes have been used in the reported literature for FF electroreduction including Fe, Ni, Cu and Pt in acidic and basic conditions [4-6]. This has resulted in difficult-to-compare results, but one result that seems to be consistent is that the use of Cu electrocatalysts in acidic conditions produces more MF than on any of the other electrodes or electrolytes that have been reported [4].  Based upon these reports, we are investigating Cu-based systems further. 

Our investigations using Cu electrocatalysts have shown that the electrolytes used have a significant impact on product selectivity. The impact of the electrolyte and the type of Cu electrocatalysts used on FF electroreduction will be presented.      


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[2] J.-P. Lange, E. van der Heide, J. van Buijtenen, R. Price, Furfural—A promising platform for lignocellulosic biofuels, ChemSusChem, 5 (2012) 150-166.

[3] R. Rao, R.T.K. Baker, M. Vannice, Furfural hydrogenation over carbon-supported copper, Catalysis Letters, 60 (1999) 51-57.

[4] P. Nilges, U. Schröder, Electrochemistry for biofuel generation: production of furans by electrocatalytic hydrogenation of furfural, Energy & Environmental Science, 6 (2013) 2925-2931.

[5] B. Zhao, M. Chen, Q. Guo, Y. Fu, Electrocatalytic hydrogenation of furfural to furfuryl alcohol using platinum supported on activated carbon fibers, Electrochimica Acta, 135 (2014) 139-146.

[6] Z. Li, S. Kelkar, C.H. Lam, K. Luczek, J.E. Jackson, D.J. Miller, C.M. Saffron, Aqueous electrocatalytic hydrogenation of furfural using a sacrificial anode, Electrochimica Acta, 64 (2012) 87-93.

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