Unraveling Two Pathways for Electrochemical Alcohol and Aldehyde Oxidation on NiOOH

Michael T. Bender, Yan Choi Lam, Sharon Hammes-Schiffer, Kyoung Shin Choi

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167 Scopus citations


Selective oxidation of alcohols to their corresponding aldehyde or carboxylic acid is one of the most important classes of organic synthesis reactions. In addition, electrochemical alcohol oxidation is considered a viable anode reaction that can be paired with H2 evolution or other reductive fuel production reactions in electrochemical and photoelectrochemical cells. NiOOH, a material that has been extensively studied as an oxygen evolution catalyst, is among the most promising electrocatalysts for selective alcohol oxidation. Electrochemical alcohol oxidation by NiOOH has been understood since the 1970s to proceed through a hydrogen atom transfer to NiOOH. In this study, we establish that there is a second, more dominant general alcohol oxidation pathway on NiOOH enabled at more positive potentials. Using a three-step electrochemical procedure we developed, we deconvoluted the currents corresponding to these two pathways for various alcohols and aldehydes. The results show that alcohols and aldehydes have a distinct difference in their respective preferences for the two oxidation pathways. Our three-step electrochemical procedure also allowed us to evaluate the Ni valence involved with the different oxidation pathways to elucidate their mechanistic differences. Using these experimental results coupled with a computational investigation, we propose that the new pathway entails hydride transfer from the substrate to Ni4+ sites in NiOOH. This study offers an essential foundation to understand various oxidative electrochemical dehydrogenation reactions on oxide and hydroxide-based catalytic electrodes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21538-21547
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number51
StatePublished - Dec 23 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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