We demonstrate the production of glycolic acid, an industrially important alcoholic compound, via the electrochemical reduction of oxalic acid, which is procurable from biomass, and electro-oxidation of water with the help of renewable light energy for the first time. In principle, this new synthesis system is achievable while minimizing the consumption of fossil resources. We built a precious-metal free electrosynthesis system by employing a TiO2 cathode for oxalic acid reduction and a WO3 photoanode for water oxidation. The alcohol production proceeds during the application of electric power above 2.1 V in the dark. Notably, UV-visible light irradiation of the WO3 photoanode enables glycolic acid electrosynthesis above 0.5 V, which is lower (by 0.6 V) than the theoretical bias, i.e., 1.1 V. Glycolic acid electrosynthesis with an 80% high Faradaic efficiency was achieved on applying a bias of 1.5 V under UV-visible irradiation (λ > 300 nm).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry