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Development of an optimal non-noble metal, mesoporous carbon electrocatalyst and design of cathodic half-cell for the two-electron oxygen reduction reaction to H2O2

Rajeesh Purushothaman, Roel Bisselink & Sotiri Mavrikis (Wageningen Research)

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR) is revolutionizing hydrogen peroxide production by developing an eco-friendly electrochemical process as part of the Power2Hype project. Focusing on non-noble metal catalysts with high efficiencies, WFBR has achieved a 90% faradaic efficiency and is advancing to larger-scale tests. The work promises a more sustainable and energy-efficient method for producing high-purity hydrogen peroxide using green electricity.

As a member of the Power2Hype consortium, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research (WFBR) aims at supplanting the complex and centralised anthraquinone autooxidation process for hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) production with an electrochemical process utilising just air and (green) electrical energy. The core process at WFBR involves the development of an optimal electrocatalyst, and the design of a cathodic half-cell for the two-electron oxygen reduction reaction (2eORR).

In the second work package (WP2) of the project, WFBR is involved in developing non-noble metal, mesoporous carbon catalysts with unique features such as high surface-area-to-mass ratio mesopores, and aligned channels for high mass transfer for the 2eORR. WFBR has achieved high faradaic efficiencies for H2O2 production (90%) when utilising a rotating ring disk electrode (RRDE) setup and H-type cell configuration for the evaluation of the electrocatalytic performance of these ‘optimised’ catalysts. Next, WFBR will assess electrocatalytic capability of the ideal catalyst-candidate in an electrochemical flow reactor configuration within a high current density value range (100 – 400 mA cm-2).

In the third work package (WP3), WFBR assembled a bench-scale electrochemical set-up to focus on the development of the cathodic half-cell for H2O2 production. First the influence of (i) the gas diffusion layer (GDL), (ii) the 2e ORR electrocatalyst and (iii) the anion exchange membrane on the efficiency for the electrochemical production of H2O2 was evaluated. Large industrially-relevant current density values of 400 mA cm-2 were achieved while maintaining a high faradaic efficiency (FE) of approximately 90%. In the ensuing months, WFBR will focus on generating a high purity hydrogen peroxide stream, whilst maintaining a low electrical energy consumption (EEC).

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