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Chemical and Biological Engineering, NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals

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Chemical Reviews




The critical aspects of the corrosion of metal electrodes in cathodic reductions are covered. We discuss the involved mechanisms including alloying with alkali metals, cathodic etching in aqueous and aprotic media, and formation of metal hydrides and organometallics. Successful approaches that have been implemented to suppress cathodic corrosion are reviewed. We present several examples from electroorganic synthesis where the clever use of alloys instead of soft neat heavy metals and the application of protective cationic additives have allowed to successfully exploit these materials as cathodes. Because of the high overpotential for the hydrogen evolution reaction, such cathodes can contribute toward more sustainable green synthetic processes. The reported strategies expand the applications of organic electrosynthesis because a more negative regime is accessible within protic media and common metal poisons, e.g., sulfur-containing substrates, are compatible with these cathodes. The strongly diminished hydrogen evolution side reaction paves the way for more efficient reductive electroorganic conversions.


This document is published as Wirtanen, Tom, Tobias Prenzel, Jean-Philippe Tessonnier, and Siegfried R. Waldvogel. "Cathodic Corrosion of Metal Electrodes—How to Prevent It in Electroorganic Synthesis." Chemical Reviews (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemrev.1c00148. Posted with permission.

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