Electrocatalysis: A direct alcohol fuel cell and surface science perspective

B. Braunchweig, D. Hibbitts, M. Neurock, A. Wieckowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


In this report, we discuss some of the advances in surface science and theory that have enabled a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms that govern the electrocatalysis. More specifically, we examine in detail the electrooxidation of C1 and C2 alcohol molecules in both acidic and basic media. A combination of detailed in situ spectroscopic measurements along with density functional theory calculations have helped to establish the mechanisms that control the reaction paths and the influence of acidic and alkaline media. We discuss some of the synergies and differences between electrocatalysis and aqueous phase heterogeneous catalysis. Such analyses begin to establish a common language and framework by which to compare as well as advance both fields.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-209
Number of pages13
JournalCatalysis Today
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 15 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AW would like to kindly acknowledge the support by the US Army Research Office under award W911NF-08-10309 and the National Science Foundation (under CHE 06-51083). BB gratefully acknowledges support by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a Feodor Lynen fellowship . MN and DH would like to acknowledge Craig Plaisance for the implementation of QUAMBO methods into the VASP code. MN gratefully acknowledges support from the Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number ERKCC61 for the work on metal/solution interfaces. (This work is part of the Fluid Interface Reactions, Structures and Transport (FIRST) Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences), U.S. Department of Energy, Division of Chemical Sciences, Office of Basic Energy Sciences ( DE-FG02-07ER15894 ) for work on oxygen reduction and the National Science Foundation Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals ( EEC-0813570 ) and the National Science Foundation PIRE ( NSF OISE-0730277 ) for the work on alcohol oxidation.


  • DFT theory
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Ethanol
  • Fuel cells
  • Methanol
  • Sum frequency generation


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