33. Alcohols electrooxidation coupled with H2 production at high current densities promoted by a cooperative catalyst

Li, Z., Yan, Y., Xu, S. M., Zhou, H., Xu, M., Ma, L., Shao, M., Kong, X., Wang, B., Zheng, L., Duan, H.* 
Nat Commun, 202213 (1), 147.
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-27806-3

Electrochemical alcohols oxidation offers a promising approach to produce valuable chemicals and facilitate coupled H2 production. However, the corresponding current density is very low at moderate cell potential that substantially limits the overall productivity. Here we report the electrooxidation of benzyl alcohol coupled with H2 production at high current density (540 mA cm−2 at 1.5 V vs. RHE) over a cooperative catalyst of Au nanoparticles supported on cobalt oxyhydroxide nanosheets (Au/CoOOH). The absolute current can further reach 4.8 A at 2.0 V in a more realistic two-electrode membrane-free flow electrolyzer. Experimental combined with theoretical results indicate that the benzyl alcohol can be enriched at Au/CoOOH interface and oxidized by the electrophilic oxygen species (OH*) generated on CoOOH, leading to higher activity than pure Au. Based on the finding that the catalyst can be reversibly oxidized/reduced at anodic potential/open circuit, we design an intermittent potential (IP) strategy for long-term alcohol electrooxidation that achieves high current density (>250 mA cm−2) over 24 h with promoted productivity and decreased energy consumption.