Towards sustainable chlorate production: The effect of permanganate addition on current efficiency

Balázs Endrődi* (Corresponding Author), Staffan Sandin, Vera Smulders, Nina Simic, Mats Wildlock, Guido Mul, Bastian T. Mei, Ann Cornell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Sodium dichromate is an essential solution additive for the electrocatalytic production of sodium chlorate, assuring selective hydrogen evolution. Unfortunately, the serious environmental and health concerns related to hexavalent chromium mean there is an urgent need to find an alternative solution to achieve the required selectivity. In this study sodium permanganate is evaluated as a possible alternative to chromate, with positive results. The permanganate additive is stable in hypochlorite-containing solutions, and during electrolysis a thin film is reductively deposited on the cathode. The deposit is identified as amorphous manganese oxide by Raman spectroscopic and X-ray diffraction studies. Using different electrochemical techniques (potentiodynamic measurements, galvanostatic polarization curves) we demonstrate that the reduction of hypochlorite is suppressed, while the hydrogen evolution reaction can still proceed. In addition, the formed manganese oxide film acts as a barrier for the reduction of dissolved oxygen. The extent of hydrogen evolution selectivity in hypochlorite solutions was quantified in an undivided electrochemical cell using mass spectrometry. The cathodic current efficiency is significantly enhanced after the addition of permanganate, while the effect on the anodic selectivity and the decomposition of hypochlorite in solution is negligible. Importantly, similar results were obtained using electrodes with manganese oxide films formed ex situ. In conclusion, manganese oxides show great promise in inducing selective hydrogen evolution, and may open new research avenues to the rational design of selective cathodes, both for the chlorate process and for related processes such as photocatalytic water splitting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-537
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of cleaner production
Volume182
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018

Keywords

  • Cathode selectivity
  • Chromate
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction
  • Hypochlorite
  • Industrial electrochemistry
  • Suppression of backreaction

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