Electrochemistry-assisted selective butadiene hydrogenation with water

Yong Qing Yan, Ya Chen, Zhao Wang, Li Hua Chen, Hao Lin Tang, Bao Lian Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alkene feedstocks are used to produce polymers with a market expected to reach 128.4 million metric tons by 2027. Butadiene is one of the impurities poisoning alkene polymerization catalysts and is usually removed by thermocatalytic selective hydrogenation. Excessive use of H2, poor alkene selectivity and high operating temperature (e.g. up to 350 °C) remain the most significant drawbacks of the thermocatalytic process, calling for innovative alternatives. Here we report a room-temperature (25~30 °C) electrochemistry-assisted selective hydrogenation process in a gas-fed fixed bed reactor, using water as the hydrogen source. Using a palladium membrane as the catalyst, this process offers a robust catalytic performance for selective butadiene hydrogenation, with alkene selectivity staying around 92% at a butadiene conversion above 97% for over 360 h of time on stream. The overall energy consumption of this process is 0.003 Wh/mLbutadiene, which is thousands of times lower than that of the thermocatalytic route. This study proposes an alternative electrochemical technology for industrial hydrogenation without the need for elevated temperature and hydrogen gas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2106
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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