The influence of reactive side products on the electrooxidation of methanol – a combined in situ infrared spectroscopy and online mass spectrometry study
Aiming at a better understanding of the impact of reaction intermediates and reactive side products on electrocatalytic reactions under conditions characteristic for technical applications, i.e., at high reactant conversions, we have investigated the electrooxidation of methanol on a Pt film electrode in mixtures containing defined concentrations of the reaction intermediates formaldehyde or formic acid. Employing simultaneous in situ infrared spectroscopy and online mass spectrometry in parallel to voltammetric measurements, we examined the effects of the latter molecules on the adlayer build-up and composition and on the formation of volatile reaction products CO2 and methylformate, as well as on the overall reaction rate. To assess the individual contributions of each component, we used isotope labeling techniques, where one of the two C1 components in the mixtures of methanol with either formaldehyde or formic acid was 13C-labeled. The data reveal pronounced effects of the additional components formaldehyde and formic acid on the reaction, although their concentration was much lower (10%) than that of the main reactant methanol. Most important, the overall Faradaic current responses and the amounts of CO2 formed upon oxidation of the mixtures are always lower than the sums of the contributions from the individual components, indicative of a non-additive behavior of both Faradaic current and CO2 formation in the mixtures. Mechanistic reasons and consequences for reactions in a technical reactor, with high reactant conversion, are discussed.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Electrocatalysis - Fundamental Insights for Sustainable Energy