Benzene electro-oxidation in a PEMFC for phenol and electricity cogeneration
In the present investigation, the electrochemically-assisted oxidation of benzene in a H2-O2 proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), for electricity and phenol cogeneration is studied. Experiments were carried out in a PEMFC electrochemical reactor using Pd black as cathode electrocatalyst at 60 and 80°C, respectively and 1 atm back pressure. Indeed, it was found that the only product detected under the examined experimental conditions was phenol. The online GC product analysis revealed that it is impossible to produce phenol when the fuel cell circuit is open (I = 0) under all the examined experimental conditions. When the fuel cell circuit was closed, however, the phenol yield was found to follow a volcano-type dependence on the current of the external circuit. It was found that the maximum phenol yield was 0.35% at 100 mA/cm2 at 80°C. At the same time, the PEMFC performance was also investigated during the phenol generation process. Furthermore, experiments with the rotating ring disc electrode (RRDE) technique showed that the intermediate oxidation product, i.e. H2O2 existed during the oxygen electro-reduction process. The cyclic voltammograms showed that benzene was strongly adsorbed on the Pd surface, leading to a degradation of the PEMFC performance. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.