American Chemical Society
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Efficient and Selective Electrochemical and Photoelectrochemical Reduction of 5‑Hydroxymethylfurfural to 2,5-Bis(hydroxymethyl)furan using Water as the Hydrogen Source

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-02-17, 00:00 authored by John J. Roylance, Tae Woo Kim, Kyoung-Shin Choi
Reductive biomass conversion has been conventionally conducted using H2 gas under high-temperature and -pressure conditions. In this study, efficient electrochemical reduction of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a key intermediate for biomass conversion, to 2,5-bis­(hydroxymethyl)­furan (BHMF), an important monomer for industrial processes, was demonstrated using Ag catalytic electrodes. This process uses water as the hydrogen source under ambient conditions and eliminates the need to generate and consume H2 for hydrogenation, providing a practical and efficient route for BHMF production. By systematic investigation of HMF reduction on the Ag electrode surface, BHMF production was achieved with the Faradaic efficiency and selectivity nearing 100%, and plausible reduction mechanisms were also elucidated. Furthermore, construction of a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC) composed of an n-type BiVO4 semiconductor anode, which uses photogenerated holes for water oxidation, and a catalytic Ag cathode, which uses photoexcited electrons from BiVO4 for the reduction of HMF to BHMF, was demonstrated to utilize solar energy to significantly decrease the external voltage necessary for HMF reduction. This shows the possibility of coupling electrochemical HMF reduction and solar energy conversion, which can provide more efficient and environmentally benign routes for reductive biomass conversion.