Sustainable Electrochemical Production of Tartaric Acid

Amanda C. Garcia*, Carlos Sánchez-Martínez, Ivan Bakker, Earl Goetheer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Herein, we describe a study of the electrochemical reduction of oxalic and glyoxylic acids toward a feasible green and sustainable production of tartaric acid in aqueous and/or acetonitrile solvent using silver and lead electrodes. Our results show that on the silver electrode, for both oxalic acid and glyoxylic acid, the reduction reaction is more favorable toward the dimerization step, leading to tartaric acid, due to the increase in the local pH, while on the lead electrode, the step involving the protonation of the intermediate is more favorable, leading to the formation of glycolate. Techno-economic analysis shows that tartaric acid production from glyoxylic acid and from oxalic acid via electrochemical synthesis can be a potential process at the industrial scale. In the present case, the oxygen evolution reaction was chosen as the reaction at the other electrode for practical reasons, but oxygen is a low-value product. Another anodic reaction with a more valuable oxidation product can be selected to increase the profitability of the overall electrochemical process and thereby decrease the total production costs of tartaric acid.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10454-10460
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number28
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • electro-dimerization reaction
  • electro-organic synthesis
  • green sysnthesis
  • sustainable chemistry
  • tartaric acid production
  • techno-economic analysis


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