Overcoming Mass Transport Limitations in Electrochemical Reactors with a Pulsating Flow Electrolyzer

Elena Pérez-Gallent, Carlos Sánchez-Martínez, Leon F.G. Geers, Susan Turk, Roman Latsuzbaia, Earl L.V. Goetheer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Electrochemical processes are a promising technology for industrial production of chemicals. One of the major drawbacks of electrochemical systems is the low mass transfer of reactants toward the active surface area of the electrode. In this paper, an approach is presented to enhance the mass transfer and increase the overall performance of the reactions. The strategy comprises introduction of a pulsed electrolyte flow in the electrochemical flow cell. This pulsating behavior results in an improved mass transfer of electroactive species due to a higher instantaneous velocity driven by the pulsations. Though the net residence time of the reactants will not be altered due to the pulsation, the resulting enhancement of mass transfer leads to an increase of the conversion. The oxidation of 1,2-propanediol to lactic acid and pyruvic acid mediated by 4-Acetamido-(2,2,6,6-Tetramethylpiperidin-1-yl) oxidanyl (ACT-TEMPO) was chosen to study the influence of the pulsed flow. Under the pulsating regime, a yield increase of lactic acid of a factor of two and a 15-20% gain in selectivity to a total of 95% toward lactic acid can be achieved by tuning the process parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5648-5656
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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