Electrochemical formation of Cr(III)-based films on Au electrodes

Vera Smulders, Nina Simic, Adriano S.O. Gomes, Bastian Mei, Guido Mul*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


In electrochemical production of sodium chlorate from brine solutions, an intriguing function of sodium (di)chromate is to inhibit cathodic reduction of oxychlorides, while maintaining effective reduction of water to form hydrogen. Using an electrochemical Quartz Crystal Microbalance (eQCM) and a Rotating Ring Disk Electrode (RRDE; Au disk, Pt ring), we analyzed the deposition of reduced Cr-species formed from reduction of CrVIO4 2− on Au electrodes. Generally, the current induced by reduction of CrVIO4 2− is significantly larger than the accumulated amount of weight deposited on the Au electrode. Deconvolution of the reductive peak reveals two processes that can be differentiated by varying rotation speed. We therefore propose soluble CrVO4 3− is formed by reduction of CrVIO4 2−, followed by consecutive reduction of CrVO4 3− to primarily soluble CrIII(OH)4 -. Simultaneously, reduction of CrVO4 3− also leads to the formation of a monolayer of CrIII(hydr)oxide. This monolayer significantly inhibits the further reduction of CrVIO4 2−, but allows the film to reach a maximum thickness of approximately 1.85 nm by reduction of surface adsorbed CrVO4 3− and/or de-hydroxylation of CrIII(OH)4 -. The observation that limitation of film growth is due to film-induced inhibition of reduction of CrVIO4 2−, and significant solubility of CrIII(OH)3 in the form of CrIII(OH)4 -, will aid in the search of a non-toxic chrome-free alternative for inhibition of cathodic reduction of oxychlorides and selective hydrogen evolution in the chlorate process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1121
Number of pages7
JournalElectrochimica acta
Early online date17 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Feb 2019


  • Cathode selectivity
  • Chlorate
  • Cr(III) oxide film formation
  • Electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance (eQCM)
  • Industrial electrochemistry
  • Rotating ring disk electrode (RRDE)
  • 22/4 OA procedure


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