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Self-Sustainable Production of Hydrogen, Chemicals, and Energy from Renewable Alcohols by Electrocatalysis



The selective and simultaneous production of hydrogen and chemicals from renewable alcohols, such as ethanol, glycerol, and ethylene glycol, can be accomplished by means of electrolyzers in which the anode electrocatalyst is appropriately designed to promote the partial and selective oxidation of the alcohol. In the electrolyzers described herein, the production of 1 kg of hydrogen from aqueous ethanol occurs with one-third the amount of energy required by a traditional H2/O2 electrolyzer, by virtue of the much lower oxidation potential of ethanol to acetate vs. water to oxygen in alkaline media (E0=0.10 V vs. 1.23 V). The self-sustainability of H2 production is ensured by the simultaneous production of 25 kg of potassium acetate for every kg of H2, if the promoting co-electrolyte is KOH.