Dr Hui Lou

IMSE Webinar Series

Molecular Engineering for Next Generation Batteries

The challenge that will be discussed in this session is:

Sustainable Glycerol Electrolysis for Co-production of Hydrogen and Value-added Chemicals

Join us for this informal webinar with Dr Hui Luo. There will be an opportunity for question and answer after the presentation. To join this webinar you must register in advance and you will be emailed the joining instructions for the webinar.


Hui Luo,a and M. TitiriciDepartment of Chemical Engineering, South Kensington Campus, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, London

Hydrogen used in fuel cells for the transportation or industrial sector represents an important vector to help UK transition to zero emissions by 2050. However, hydrogen production today is still primarily based on fossil fuels. Out of 70 Mt annual hydrogen production globally, 76% is from natural gas and 23% from coal. This leads to 830 Mt CO2 emitted per year, 2.5% of global carbon emission. Water electrolysis currently constitutes the most promising solution for clean hydrogen production, but it requires relatively high energy consumption. To solve this problem, we propose the concept “Glycerolyser” to substitute the anodic reaction, water oxidation (> 1.23V vs RHE) by the partial oxidation of glycerol (~ 0.4 – 0.7 V), which saves > 50 % electricity. Glycerol is a waste by-product from biodiesel production. Each year a large surplus of glycerol is produced (7.66 Mt) compared to its demand (3 Mt), consequently reducing the price of glycerol to $0.11/kg, making it a suitable and low-cost feedstock for H2 production. As the market for glycerol derivatives has grown significantly, co-producing valuable chemicals and H2 at low potential would lead to an overall better economic and environmental impact. In this work, commercial Pt/C and PtNi bimetallic electrocatalyst are used at the anode to catalyse glycerol partial oxidation while Pt foil is used at the cathode for H2 production. Different parameters, such as glycerol concentration and pH are compared to investigate the conversion rate as well as selectivity. The liquid products at the anode and gas products at the cathode are analysed with HPLC and GC-MS, respectively. At only 0.9 V vs RHE, both H2 and glycerol derivatives were detected, proving the fulfilment of the concept. The same protocol would later be expanded to other biomass-derived materials, such as glucose, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and lignin, paving the way towards unscalable biomass electrolysis.


Dr Hui Lou

Research associate, Department of Chemical Engineering

Hui Luo did her undergraduate study in Donghua University, School of Material Science and Engineering with Prof. Guang Li (June 2015). Her topic was “The Synthesis of Pt/C Catalyst and its Application in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell”. Her PhD project was co-supervised with Prof. Magdalena Titirici, and mainly focused on designing carbon dots decorated TiO2 thin film with special structure, to achieve high performance towards photocatalytic water splitting.

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