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Electrochemical synthesis of hydrogen peroxide from water and oxygen

Abstract

H2O2 is important in large-scale industrial processes and smaller on-site activities. The present industrial route to H2O2 involves hydrogenation of an anthraquinone and O2 oxidation of the resulting dihydroanthraquinone — a costly method and one that is impractical for routine on-site use. Electrosynthesis of H2O2 is cost-effective and applicable on both large and small scales. This Review describes methods to design and assess electrode materials for H2O2 electrosynthesis. H2O2 can be prepared by oxidizing H2O at efficient anodic catalysts such as those based on BiVO4. Alternatively, H2O2 forms by partially reducing O2 at cathodes featuring either noble metal alloys or doped carbon. In addition to the catalyst materials used, one must also consider the form and geometry of the electrodes and the type of reactor in order to strike a balance between properties such as mass transport and electroactive area, both of which substantially affect both the selectivity and rate of reaction. Research into catalyst materials and reactor designs is arguably quite mature, such that the future of H2O2 electrosynthesis will instead depend on the design of complete and efficient electrosynthesis systems, in which the complementary properties of the catalysts and the reactor lead to optimal selectivity and overall yield.

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Fig. 1: Major developments in the chemical and electrochemical synthesis of H2O2.
Fig. 2: Interactions between intermediates and the catalyst surface strongly affect rates of H2O2 electrosynthesis.
Fig. 3: O2 reduction to H2O2 at metal electrodes.
Fig. 4: Selectivity in O2 reduction to H2O2 as a function of Pd content in PdxAu1−x.
Fig. 5: Metal-oxide-based electrodes and their performance in electrocatalytic and photoelectrocatalytic H2O2 production.
Fig. 6: Possible cell configurations for the electrosynthesis of H2O2.

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Acknowledgements

This work is supported as part of the CO2-based electrosynthesis of ethylene oxide (CO2EXIDE) project, which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in co-operation with the sustainable process industry through resource and energy efficiency (SPIRE) initiative under grant agreement no. 768789.

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Perry, S.C., Pangotra, D., Vieira, L. et al. Electrochemical synthesis of hydrogen peroxide from water and oxygen. Nat Rev Chem 3, 442–458 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41570-019-0110-6

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