Performance assessment of a polymer electrolyte membrane electrochemical reactor under alkaline conditions - a case study with the electrooxidation of alcohols
On the performance of a polymer electrolyte membrane electrochemical reactor for electrosynthesis of carboxylic acids in alkaline media
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AuthorGarcía Cruz, Leticia; Casado Coterillo, Clara; Irabien Gulías, José Ángel; Montiel Leguey, Vicente; Iniesta Valcárcel, Jesús
A novel polymer electrolyte membrane electrochemical reactor (PEMER) configuration has been employed for the direct electrooxidation of propargyl alcohol (PGA), a model primary alcohol, towards its carboxylic acid derivatives in alkaline medium. The PEMER configuration comprised of an anode and cathode based on nanoparticulate Ni and Pt electrocatalysts, respectively, supported on carbonaceous substrates. The electrooxidation of PGA was performed in 1.0 M NaOH, where a cathode based on a gas diffusion electrode was manufactured for the reduction of oxygen in alkaline conditions. The performance of a novel alkaline anion-exchange membrane based on Chitosan (CS) and Poly(vinyl) alcohol (PVA) in a 50:50 composition ratio doped with a 5 wt.% of poly (4-vinylpyridine) organic ionomer cross-linked, methyl chloride quaternary salt resin (4VP) was assessed as solid polymer electrolyte. The influence of 4VP anionic ionomer loading of 7, 12 and 20 wt.% incorporated into the electrocatalytic layers was examined by SEM and cyclic voltammetry (CV) upon the optimisation of the electroactive area, the mechanical stability and cohesion of the catalytic ink onto the carbonaceous substrate for both electrodes. The performance of the 4VP/CS:PVA membrane was compared with the commercial alkaline anion-exchange membrane FAA -a membrane generally used in direct alcohol alkaline fuel cells- in terms of polarisation plots in alkaline conditions. Furthermore, preparative electrolyses of the electrooxidation of PGA was performed under alkaline conditions of 1 M NaOH at constant current density of 20 mA cm-2 using a PEMER configuration to provide proof of the principle of the feasibility of the electrooxidation of other alcohols in alkaline media. PGA conversion to Z isomers of 3-(2-propynoxy)-2-propenoic acid (Z-PPA) was circa 0.77, with average current efficiency of 0.32. Alkaline stability of the membranes within the PEMER configuration was finally evaluated after the electrooxidation of PGA.