Electrochemical biomass upgrading: Degradation of glucose to lactic acid on a copper(ii) electrode

Lars Ostervold, Sergio I. Perez Bakovic, Jamie Hestekin, Lauren F. Greenlee

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13 Scopus citations


Biomass upgrading-the conversion of biomass waste into value-added products-provides a possible solution to reduce global dependency on nonrenewable resources. This study investigates the possibility of green biomass upgrading for lactic acid production by electrochemically-driven degradation of glucose. Herein we report an electrooxidized copper(ii) electrode which exhibits a turnover frequency of 5.04 s-1 for glucose conversion. Chronoamperometry experiments under varied potentials, alkalinity, and electrode preparation achieved a maximum lactic acid yield of 23.3 ± 1.2% and selectivity of 31.1 ± 1.9% (1.46 V vs. RHE, 1.0 M NaOH) for a room temperature and open-to-atmosphere reaction. Comparison between reaction conditions revealed lactic acid yield depends on alkalinity and applied potential, while pre-oxidation of the copper had a negligible effect on yield. Post-reaction cyclic voltammetry studies indicated no loss in reactivity for copper(ii) electrodes after a 30 hour reaction. Finally, a mechanism dependent on solvated Cu2+ species is proposed as evidenced by similar product distributions in electrocatalytic and thermocatalytic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31208-31218
Number of pages11
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number50
StatePublished - Sep 15 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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