Direct use of electrical energy is one of the key elements in the conversion of the chemical industry to a more sustainable production. The entry point into various value chains is water electrolysis to generate hydrogen. However, while the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is rather straightforward, bigger challenges are posed by oxygen evolution (OER), and the same holds for the reverse process proceeding in fuel cells. Over the past years, a substantial fraction of the work in the department has therefore been focused on advanced catalysts for electrocatalytic reactions involving oxygen, especially on nanostructured system such as hollow graphitic spheres, with high activity and longer lifetime than conventional catalysts. Another important research line is directed to the development of reactions, which could replace the non-value-generating OER by electrocatalytic reactions for high-volume products, which are interesting in themselves. This is, for instance, furandicarboxylic acid, which could replace terephthalic acid in the production of polyesters, such as PET, or the production of methylbisulfate or methanesulfonic acid from methane, which would provide a direct method for methane functionalization. The work of the group in this direction relies to a large extent to especially designed electrochemical cells for work under high pressure, high temperature and with corrosive media, such as oleum. The range of reactions is currently being extended, for instance to eactions involving ammonia, partly in liquid ammonia under elevated pressure.
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