70. Electrocatalytic upgrading of plastic and biomass-derived polyols to formamide under ambient conditions

Qiujin Shi, Wengio Tang, Kejian Kong, Xiang Liu, Ye Wang, Haohong Duan*
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2024, e202407580.
DOI: 10.1002/ange.202407580

Electrocatalytic upgrading of wasted plastic and renewable biomass represents a sustainable method to produce chemicals but is limited to carbohydrates, leaving other value-added chemicals, such as organonitrogen compounds, being scarcely explored. Herein, we reported an electrocatalytic oxidation strategy to transform polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic-derived ethylene glycol (EG) and biomass-derived polyols into formamide, in the presence of ammonia (NH3) over a tungsten oxide (WO3) catalyst. Taking EG-to-formamide as an example, we achieved a high formamide productivity of 537.7 μmol cm−2 h−1 with FE of 43.2% at a constant current of 100 mA cm−2 in a flow electrolyzer with 12-h test, representing a more advantageous performance compared with previous reports for formamide electrosynthesis. Mechanistic understanding revealed that the cleavage of the C−C bond in the EG was facilitated by nucleophilic attack of in-situ formed nitrogen radicals from NH3, with resultant C−N bond construction and eventually formamide production. Furthermore, this strategy can be extended to transformation of PET bottle and a series of biomass-derived polyols with carbon number from three (glycerol) to six (glucose), producing formamide with high efficiencies. This work demonstrates a sustainable upgrading strategy of plastic and biomass that may have implications to more value-added chemicals production beyond carbohydrates.