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

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Department of Chemical Engineering


We report the selective electrocatalytic oxidation of glycerol for the cogeneration of mesoxalic acid and electricity on a gold anode catalyst in anion-exchange membrane fuel cells (AEMFCs). Small Au nanoparticles (3.5nm) were uniformly deposited onto carbon black with a loading of 40wt% through a solution-phase method. An AEMFC with this Au/C anode catalyst, together with an Fe-based cathode catalyst, exhibited a peak power density of 57.9mWcm-2 at 80°C. Valuable mesoxalic acid was produced with high selectivity (46%) from the electro-oxidation of glycerol on Au/C at an operating voltage of 0.3V, whilst very small amounts of mesoxalic acid (selectivity < 3%) were obtained on a Pt/C anode catalyst in AEMFCs. The product distribution was dependent on the anode overpotential. At 1.2V versus the standard hydrogen electrode (SHE) in an electrolysis cell, glycolic acid was the major product (selectivity: 65%) and no mesoxalic acid was observed. Based on the product analysis, we found that Au facilitated deeper-oxidation of glycerol to afford the fully-oxidized C3 mesoxalic acid, rather than C, C cleavage, under a mild potential range (0.4-0.7V vs. SHE) that was fortunately within the working voltage range of the fuel cells.

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© 2012 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. Publisher’s version of record:

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