Efficient electrohydrogenation of unsaturated organics using noble-metal free pentlandite catalysts
Daniel Siegmund, Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT Oberhausen, Germany
Electrocatalytic hydrogenation reactions (ECH) emerge as promising processes in the reductive production of base- and fine-chemicals. When driven by renewable energies, ECH constitutes a sustainable option employing mild conditions and circumventing the need for gaseous hydrogen, high pressure conditions as well as stoichiometric reducing agents. In terms of employed electrocatalysts, much can be learned from natural enzymatic systems handling hydrogen. Inspired by the active sites of hydrogenases, highly conductive 3d-metal chalcogenides can act as highly efficient and cheap electrocatalysts for the ECH of unsaturated organic chemicals. Based on this inspiring compound class, the necessary interplay of material science as well as reactor engineering all the way from an initially promising catalytic material to a scalable electrochemical cell with industrial potential is outlined.
Figure 1: Advantages of electrocatalytic approaches over the classical hydrogenation of organic compounds.