Catalysis Club of Chicago

Member-North American Catalysis Society

February 10, 2020

LaBarra – Butterfield
3011 Butterfield Road
Oak Brook, IL 60523

Cost $50 ($25 Graduate Student/Post Doc)
Annual Dues $30 ($10 Students/Post Docs)

Electrosynthesis of Chemicals and Fuels: Electrochemistry at the Biorefineryitle to be Announced

Professor Elizabeth Biddinger
Department of Chemical Engineering
City College of New York
New York, NY

ABSTRACT : As electricity prices continue to drop and intermittent sources of electricity grow, electrochemically synthesizing chemicals becomes feasible. Electrochemical synthesis methods offer opportunities to perform reactions under benign reaction conditions (at or near room temperature and pressure), use less harmful or waste-generating reaction steps, and perform selective reactions. In electroreduction reactions, externally-supplied hydrogen gas that is generally needed for reduction is not required.  Rather, electrons, frequently paired with the electrolyte, are the reducing agents. An example ripe for electrochemical synthesis implementation is that of the biorefinery. Once the initial biomass-derived chemicals have been formed, they need to be upgraded to more stable species for transportation and use elsewhere. Biorefineries are much smaller and more locally distributed compared to their petrochemical refinery counterparts, making complex processes more difficult to operate. There are benefits to using electrochemical processes on a skid-scale at these biorefineries. Electrochemical hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis (ECH) will be presented as an example of replacing a traditional heterogeneously-catalyzed synthesis with an electrochemical synthesis. The specific ECH reaction that will be focused on is furfural, a biomass-derived species, to furfuryl alcohol and 2-methyl furan, a resin intermediate and a fuel alternative, respectively.  The work presented here will illustrate the concept of electrochemical upgrading using electrochemical hydrogenation and hydrogenolysis (ECH) of furfural to 2-methyl furan and furfuryl alcohol, a fuel and chemical intermediate, respectively. By tuning the reaction conditions, the desired products can be formed and the undesired products minimized. Modifications to the copper electrocatalyst can improve reaction rate and reduce fouling of the catalyst.

Bio: Elizabeth J. Biddinger joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at The City College of New York as an Assistant Professor in the Fall of 2012 and received her tenure promotion notice in Fall 2019 to be effective for Fall 2020.  Her research interests encompass green chemistry and energy applications utilizing electrocatalysis and ionic liquids.  Prior to joining CCNY, Professor Biddinger was a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology 2010-2012.  She received her PhD in 2010 in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University and her BS in 2005 in Chemical Engineering from Ohio University.  Professor Biddinger has been recognized for her work including the 2018 DOE Early Career Award for biomass electroreduction, the 2016-2017 Electrochemical Society – Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship Award for reversible ionic liquid systems as electrochemical safety switches, and the 2014 CUNY Junior Faculty Award for Science and Engineering from the Sloan Foundation for CO2 electroreduction. Professor Biddinger has held multiple leadership posts including serving as the student awards chair for the Industrial Electrochemistry and Electrochemical Engineering Division of the Electrochemical Society (ECS) (2014-Present); a member of the ECS Publications Sub-Committee (2017-Present); a Director of the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) (2017-Present) and; chair (2009-2010) and vice-chair (2008-2009) of the Central Ohio Professional Section of AIChE.