Effect of Anode Material on Electrochemical Oxidation of Alcohols

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Marta Wala and Wojciech Simka * molecules Review Effect of Anode Material on Electrochemical Oxidation of Low Molecular Weight Alcohols—A Review 􏰁􏰂􏰃 􏰅􏰆􏰇 􏰈􏰉􏰊􏰋􏰌􏰂􏰍 Citation: Wala,M.;Simka,W.Effect of Anode Material on Electrochemical Oxidation of Low Molecular Weight Alcohols—A Review. Molecules 2021, 26,2144. https://doi.org/10.3390/ molecules26082144 Academic Editor: Javier Llanos Received: 11 February 2021 Accepted: 6 April 2021 Published: 9 April 2021 Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affil- iations. Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/). Faculty of Chemistry, Silesian University of Technology, B. Krzywoustego Str. 6, 44-100 Gliwice, Poland; marta.wala@polsl.pl * Correspondence: wojciech.simka@polsl.pl; Tel.: +48-32-237-2605 Abstract: The growing climate crisis inspires one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century—developing novel power sources. One of the concepts that offer clean, non-fossil electricity production is fuel cells, especially when the role of fuel is played by simple organic molecules, such as low molecular weight alcohols. The greatest drawback of this technology is the lack of electrocatalytic materials that would enhance reaction kinetics and good stability under process conditions. Currently, electrodes for direct alcohol fuel cells (DAFCs) are mainly based on platinum, which not only provides a poor reaction rate but also readily deactivates because of poisoning by reaction products. Because of these disadvantages, many researchers have focused on developing novel electrode materials with electro- catalytic properties towards the oxidation of simple alcohols, such as methanol, ethanol, ethylene glycol or propanol. This paper presents the development of electrode materials and addresses future challenges that still need to be overcome before direct alcohol fuel cells can be commercialized. Keywords: electrooxidation; methanol; ethanol; propanol; ethylene glycol; fuel cell 1. Introduction With the growing world population and technological development, energy demands are constantly increasing; therefore, developing more sustainable energy sources is one of the greatest technical challenges of the 21st century. Conventional solutions are becoming increasingly suboptimal because of their high environmental impact, which strongly affects climate and leads to the acceleration of climate change For these reasons, research on new energy sources is necessary. In particular, solutions that would enable the usage of streams that are now considered waste, like simple organic compounds, such as urea, methanol or ethanol, as fuels would be very beneficial. The use of low molecular weight alcohols as energy sources has many advantages: they are liquids, which simplifies their storage and transport. They have high energy densities, which means that small amounts of these compounds provide large quantities of energy compared to conventional fuels. The use of lightweight alcohols as a fuel goes back to the 19th century, as it was the fuel recommended by Otto when he has developed the spark-ignition engine [1]. In such an engine, methanol has lower air consumption (14.55 kg/kg vs. 6.5 kg/kg) and a higher octane number (97.7 vs. 108.7) than conventional gasoline [2]. For more advanced engine technologies, such as internal combustion engines, methanol and ethanol have been considered as fuel since their invention and have played the role of the fuel blends that have increased the octane number when added to the gasoline [3]. Both methanol and ethanol have been proposed as blendstocks for diesel fuel and gasoline [1]. Both have been used for biodiesel production [1]. Technologies for the large-scale production of lightweight alcohols have been known for centuries and are well developed [4]. Additionally, they are present in waste streams of many large-scale industrial processes, such as wood pulping [5]. Molecules 2021, 26, 2144. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26082144 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/molecules

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