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Keywords:

  • biofuels;
  • electrochemistry;
  • energy conversion;
  • fuel cells;
  • heterogeneous catalysis

Abstract

Acetone was electrocatalytically reduced to isopropanol in a proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) reactor on an unsupported platinum cathode. Protons needed for the reduction were produced on the unsupported Pt[BOND]Ru anode from either hydrogen gas or electrolysis of water. The current efficiency (the ratio of current contributing to the desired chemical reaction to the overall current) and reaction rate for acetone conversion increased with increasing temperature or applied voltage for the electrocatalytic acetone/water system. The reaction rate and current efficiency went through a maximum with respect to acetone concentration. The reaction rate for acetone conversion increased with increasing temperature for the electrocatalytic acetone/hydrogen system. Increasing the applied voltage for the electrocatalytic acetone/hydrogen system decreased the current efficiency due to production of hydrogen gas. Results from this study demonstrate the commercial feasibility of using PEM reactors to electrocatalytically reduce biomass-derived oxygenates into renewable fuels and chemicals.