The Paris Agreement on climate change and the growing scientific and technological interest in biomass valorisation are leading to the exploration of new ways of working, more respectful of the environment, in traditional organic chemistry. Among these novelties is the improvement of the transformation of usual compounds, such as ketones into alcohols and hydrocarbons, and vice versa.
In this context, researchers from the Institute of Theoretical and Computational Chemistry of the University of Barcelona (IQTCUB) (Catalonia, Spain) and the Institute of Chemistry of the University of Leiden (Holland) have studied the electrochemical reduction of acetone, the simplest and probably most important of ketones.
The results, published in the journal Nature Catalysis, reveal that some platinum electrodes used in the electrochemical cell are inert, but others produce propane (hydrocarbon gas) and another group, isopropanol (an alcohol). According to the researchers, this extraordinary selectivity is due to the atomic scale structure of platinum electrodes.