Electro-oxidation of furfural on gold is limited by furoate self-assembly

Alex M. Román, Naveen Agrawal, Joseph C. Hasse, Michael J. Janik, J. Will Medlin, Adam Holewinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Processing of biomass-derived compounds with electrocatalysis has shown promise to directly couple the production of valuable feedstocks with the storage of renewably produced electricity. One potential route of electrocatalytic conversion is the partial oxidation of furfural to furoic acid (FA), a precursor to 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA). We have utilized differential electrochemical reactor studies along with infrared spectroscopy (ATR-SEIRAS) experiments and density functional theory (DFT) calculations to probe the oxidative reaction pathways of furfural on gold catalysts in acidic electrolyte. We find furfural electro-oxidation activity (~2 µA/cm2Au at 1.0 VRHE) to be an order of magnitude higher than that observed on Pt/C. 96 ± 6% Faradaic efficiency to FA is achieved at 0.8 VRHE. Product desorption is rate limiting, and spectroscopic evidence indicates that the most abundant intermediate is surface furoate. Deeper oxidation products observed with dilution of furfural suggest that self-assembly of the furoate species contributes to selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Catalysis
StatePublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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