Electrochemical conversions of furanic compounds
Lignocellulosic biomass is rich in carbohydrates and so it is an abundant, natural source of carbon independent of oil and coal. Dehydration of such carbohydrates yields compounds such as furans or levulinic acid. Some of these compounds are produced in large quantities; for example the industrial furfural production exceeds 250,000 tons every year. Our aim is to electrochemically convert such platform chemicals, for example 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (5-HMF), to high value-added products or fuels, such as 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA) via the oxidation of 5-HMF, or 2,5-dimethylfuran (DMF) via the reduction of 5-HMF. For that purpose, we characterize the product distribution on various electrodes and study the reactions of intermediates with EC-RTMS. For promising materials, we employ long-term electrolysis to quantify reaction rates and selectivities, as well as rotating disc electrode measurements to gain a more fundamental understanding of the underlying processes.