Photoelectrochemical Valorization of Biomass Derivatives

The last publication in Solar RRL entitled “Photoelectrochemical Valorization of Biomass Derivatives with Hematite Photoanodes Modified by Cocatalysts” is out now.

Abstract: The solar-driven oxidation of biomass to valuable chemicals is rising as a promising anodic reaction in photoelectrochemical cells, replacing the sluggish oxygen evolution reaction and improving the added value of the energy conversion process. Herein, the photooxidation of 5-hydroxymethylfurfural into furan dicarboxylic acid (FDCA) is performed in basic aqueous environment (borate buffer, pH 9.2), with the addition of 2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl (TEMPO) as redox mediator. Because of its good stability, cost-effectiveness, and nontoxicity, titanium-modified hematite (Ti:Fe2O3) photoanodes are investigated to this aim, and their performance is tuned by engineering the semiconductor surface with a thin layer of Co-based cocatalysts, i.e., cobalt iron oxide (CoFeO x ) and cobalt phosphate (CoPi). Interestingly, the electrode modified with CoPi shows improved efficiency and selectivity toward the final product FDCA The source of this enhancement is correlated to the effect of the cocatalyst on the charge carrier dynamics, which is investigated by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and intensity-modulated photocurrent spectroscopy analysis. In addition, the results of the latter are interpreted through a novel approach called Lasso distribution of relaxation time, revealing that CoPi cocatalyst is effective in the suppression of the recombination processes and in the enhancement of direct hole transfer to TEMPO.

The full open access publication is available at the following link: