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Electrochemical oxidation of organic compounds

English title Electrochemical oxidation of organic compounds
Applicant Comninellis Christos
Number 113044
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut des sciences et ingénierie chimiques EPFL - SB - ISIC
Institution of higher education EPF Lausanne - EPFL
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.10.2006 - 30.09.2008
Approved amount 150'744.00
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Keywords (11)

Boron-doped diamond electrodes; Electrocatalysis; Hydroxyl radicals; Electrochemical oxidation; Electrochemical combustion; Fuel cell; Boron doped diamond (BDD); Au nanoparticles; metallic and bi-metallic nanoparticles; Pt-Au alloy; fuel cells

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Using petrol as a main source of energy, during the 20th century, has caused considerable amounts of damage among which are atmospheric pollution and global warming. At the same time, many geologists and economists expect that the discovery rate of new petrol sources will not follow the market’s demand causing a serious shortage of petrol in the near future. These alarming perspectives have motivated scientists around the world to develop new clean and renewable energy sources. It is in that objective that electrochemists intensified their research in order to develop the fuel cell technology. This latter consists in directly converting chemical energy into electricity. The main advantage of this technology over traditional energy production is that the fuel cell energy efficiency is Carnot cycle independent. The theoretical efficiency of such an energy source is nearly 90%. Direct Alcohol Fuel Cell (DAFC), fed by ethanol on one hand and by air (oxygen) in the other hand, is a very interesting option for such kind of energy production. Ethanol is a renewable energy source of vegetal origin whose CO2 production is consumed by plants during the cycle.
The main problem for the practical application of the DAFC is the low performances of the electro-catalyst. In our laboratory we are working in the preparation of a new generation of Pt-Au nanoparticles on boron doped diamond (BDD) substrate using different techniques namely: electrochemical deposition, the microemulsion route or via the dendrimeric technique.Using these bimetallic Pt-Au nanoparticles we expect to increase the rate of ethanol oxidation to carbon dioxide and consequently promote the application of the DAFC for electrical cars application. Furthermore we will focus our effort to a better understanding of the mechanism of the oxidation of ethanol. In fact with these bimetallic Pt-Au nanoparticles deposited on BDD substrate (Pt-Au/BDD) we can expect both the synergetic effect (bifunctional mechanism) and a modification of the Pt work function (electronic effect). Further information on research, publications and thesis within our group can be found on
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
121634 Electrochemical oxidation of organic compounds 01.10.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)
104993 Electrochemical oxidation of organic compounds 01.10.2004 Project funding (Div. I-III)