Corresponding Author

Shuo-Zhen Hu(shuozhen.hu@ecust.edu.cn)


Glyoxylic acid with the dual characteristics of acid and aldehyde is an important chemical raw material and organic synthesis intermediate, which is extensively used in the perfumery, pharmaceutical and fine chemical industries. A family of symmetric quaternary ammonium hydroxides (QAHs) with different alkyl chain lengths was used as the additives in generating glyoxylic acid from oxalic acid electroreduction reaction (OAER). The effects of alkyl chain length on OAER and the corresponding side reaction, i.e., hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), were investigated. Linear sweep voltammetric (LSV) results showed that the adsorption of the additives suppressed more on the HER than that on OAER, resulted in improving the current efficiency of OAER. As the alkyl chain length of QAH increased, the suppression effect on HER was more obvious. The effect of additives on oxalic acid diffusion was studied by chronoamperometry (CA). With the increase in the alkyl chain length of the QAH additives, the diffusion coefficient of oxalic acid increased first and then decreased. The constant-current electrolysis results showed that the additives could effectively improve the current efficiency of the OAER, which was highly related to the alkyl chain length of QAHs. The LSV, CA and electrolysis results indicate that the suppression effect of QAHs adsorption on HER is the main reason for the improvement of current efficiency. In this study, tetrabutylammonium hydroxide (TBAH) is the best additive to increase the current efficiency of generating glyoxylic acid from oxalic acid.

Graphical Abstract


oxalic acid, electroreduction, glyoxylic acid, symmetrical quaternary ammonium additive, alkyl chain length

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