Chemistry with sunlight: Combining electrochemistry and photovoltaics to clean up oxidation reactions

Combining electrochemistry and photovoltaics to clean up oxidation reactions The idea is simple, says Kevin Moeller, PhD, and yet it has huge implications. All we are recommending is using photovoltaic cells (clean energy) to power electrochemical reactions (clean chemistry). Moeller is the first to admit this isn?t new science.?But we hope to change the way people do this kind of chemistry by making a connection for them between two existing technologies,? he says.To underscore the simplicity of the idea, Moeller and his co-authors used a $6 solar cell sold on the Internet and intended to power toy cars to run reactions described in an article published in Green Chemistry.If their suggestion were widely adopted by the chemical industry, it would eliminate the toxic byproducts currently produced by a class of reactions commonly used in chemical synthesis ? and with them the environmental and economic damage they cause.The trouble with oxidation reactionsMoeller, a professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at

"But we hope to change the way people do this kind of chemistry by making a connection for them between two existing technologies," he says.
"They are the one tool we have that allows us to increase the functionality of a molecule, to add more "handles" to it by which it can be manipulated," says Moeller.
"Molecules interact with each other through combinations of atoms known as functional groups," he explains.
"If you use oxygen to do the oxidation, the byproduct is water, and that is a gentle process," he says.
"So whatever I want to oxidize in solution has to have an oxidation potential that matches oxygen's. If it doesn't, I might have to change my whole reaction around to make sure I can use oxygen. And when I change the whole reaction around, maybe it doesn't run as well as it used to. So I'm limited in what I can do," Moeller says.
"Electrochemistry can oxidize molecules with any oxidation potential, because the electrode voltage can be tuned or adjusted, or I can run the reaction in such a way that it adjusts itself. So I have tremendous versatility for doing things," says Moeller.
"That's what the Green Chemistry article is about," says Moeller. "It's a proof-of-principle paper that says it's easy to make this work, and it works just like reactions that don't use photovoltaics, so the chemical reaction doesn't have to be changed around."
"An electrode selects purely on oxidation potential," Moeller explains.
"The chemistry community has learned how to use chemical reagents to make reactions selective," he says.
"Another example is an industrial process for carrying out alcohol oxidations that convert the alcohol group to a carbonyl group," says Moeller.
"We can't make all of chemical synthesis cleaner by hitching solar power to electrochemistry," Moeller says, "but we can fix the oxidation reactions that people use.

Chemistry with sunlight: Combining electrochemistry and photovoltaics to clean up oxidation reactions

The idea is simple, says Kevin Moeller, PhD, and yet it has huge implications. All we are recommending is using photovoltaic cells (clean energy) to power electrochemical reactions (clean chemistry). ...

Thu 9 Jun 11 from Phys.org

Chemistry with Sunlight

Researchers are studying how to clean up chemical synthesis by connecting solar power to electrochemistry, which could eliminate the toxic byproducts produced by a class of reactions commonly ...

Fri 10 Jun 11 from Laboratory Equipment

Chemistry With Sunlight, Sat 11 Jun 11 from RedOrbit

Chemistry with sunlight, Thu 9 Jun 11 from Labspaces.net

Chemistry with sunlight, Thu 9 Jun 11 from e! Science News

Chemistry with sunlight, Thu 9 Jun 11 from ScienceDaily

Chemistry with sunlight, Thu 9 Jun 11 from Eurekalert

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